Saturday, January 01, 2011

snuggling and sacrifice

It is nearly 11:00 AM on this temperate but grayish and wet New Year's Day, and, oddly enough, I am the only one up. The hubby who stayed up reading after we returned home from our holiday revelry is cozied up in bed next to the seven-year-old, who desperately but unsuccessfully tried to keep up with the almost-twelve-year-olds who intended to stay up ALL night but were found, true to my prediction, sacked out on the couch this morning, unknowingly succumbing to sleep somewhere after movie three. It was a valiant effort, nonetheless.

To say it is unusual that I am the only one up would be a gross understatement. When left to my own devices and not bound by the constrictions of four different calendars, it is quite the norm to find me still in bed while all the rest of my household starves for lack of an ability to get their own bowl out of the cabinet and pour their own milk and cereal. Occasionally the almost-twelve-year-old gives me a run for my money as her body shifts to its adolescent time table, but I can still easily beat her in a sleep-in-off hand's down just about any morning I am given the opportunity.

That is, until Buddy comes and crawls in bed.

Both of my children, I should clarify, are avid snugglers. They love to come into our bedroom after they've awakened and basically make sure that I am awake, too, which is very kind of them, if not entirely misguided. They pull back the covers and burrow through them until they've found my warm body, and then adhere themselves to me in whatever fashion they are able as warranted by my position in the bed. This has been our morning ritual since they were old enough to get out of bed--indeed, Bub even has gone as far as to set her alarm to be sure she gets snuggle time before she has to get ready for school. It is as much of our family's genetic code as ice cream and game nights and hiking adventures and leaving the new toilet paper roll on top of the toilet paper roll holder.

Sometimes, when they've shuffled in with a groggy step and fallen into the bed half-aware, I am blessed with another bit of sleep as their breathing falls mercifully into a deep, deliberate pattern and their bodies are gloriously still. I may not be able to breath or move myself, wedged as I am into the double bed I grew up sleeping in alone and now am forced to share with not one but two to three people and as many cats, but at least they are not moving and if I breathe deeply myself and try to visualize pleasant, spacious places, I can get very close to falling back asleep, myself. Almost.

But I am not always so fortunate. Buddy, who is the true cling-on of the pair, is also a bit, um, shall we say, squirrely, and I know as soon as I hear distinct, rapid footsteps scampering from the bathroom that my evening's repose has expired. No longer drowsy, all hope is gone of his body again becoming static, and I am up for a morning of elbows and knees and whispers and wiggles and sighs and desperate, futile pleas for him to please be still.

They tell me I will miss this.

Truth be told, I tell myself this, as well. It is the only reason I do not lock and bar my bedroom door on a nightly basis. I know I will miss this. Desperately. And so I endure it. And I only groan inwardly as soon as I hear Buster Brown descend from his top bunk across the hall, so that he will not ever know I am not as thrilled as he that he is awake and ready to snuggle. But it is a bittersweet snuggle, as I once again, for the first time of many that day, sacrifice that which I desire for the ever more important desires of my children.

We are nearing 11:30 and there is still no sound from upstairs. Apparently starting a movie at 2:00 AM was enough to keep Buddy quiet for his father this morning, and they are still warm and cozy in MY bed that I could no longer lay still in for lack of space and breathing room. (Literally.) Rather than fight for cramped, sweaty, broken sleep this morning, I have done a new thing in this new year. I have arisen before my entire family and come down to the kitchen and sat my butt in front of the computer and I've done something I WANTED TO DO. For once. Perhaps this bodes well for the new year. Perhaps this is an omen. Or perhaps this is just a fluke. After all, it is much easier to rise before everyone else when I am rising at 10:00 in the morning. Which is just about right for me...

Parenting and writing do not flow easily for me out of the same space. Somewhere between all the work of taking care of people, which is done both professionally and personally, I fear I have lost my creative self. The writer. The musician. The artist. I know intellectually they are truly not lost--just hibernating, perhaps, not enjoying the cold, gray winters of Ohio any more than I do. But I miss them. Desperately. And I feel incomplete without them. And I've still, after almost twelve years, not yet determined how to balance that which I need with the needs of my children. And I've yet to comprehend, in my own life and beyond, where the mystery of death to self and the reality of taking care of one's self intersect.

For a fleeting moment I hear a bird singing outside my window, and just as quickly as it came, it is gone. Thank God for temperate, unseasonable days that bring us out of hibernation and restore to us that which we were created to do. Even if only for one, quiet, up-before-everyone-else morning.

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