My daughter and I snuggled in bed. My eyelids were heavy, but I fought off sleep in order to enjoy a few precious moments chatting with her. Some of our best conversations take place in the bedtime hour. Distractions are shut off, and the only mission I have left for the day is sleep. For me, for the kids, for the pets — it’s the only pressing task left on our to-do lists.
“Sometimes when I lay in bed, I think I should get up and clean my room,” she told me. This piqued my interest. Her room seems to be some sort of energy vortex, propelling the brightly colored contents of her room in an unorganized chaos of perpetual motion.
“You think this in the middle of the night?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “I make plans. First I would clean under my bed. I’d get all the toys out from under my trundle and out from under my mattress.” She looked at me quizzically, “Did you know I found a whole bunch of toys actually under my mattress?” This did not surprise me. She continued detailing the plan.
“Then I’d work on the floor. Then I’d organize the closet.”
This part did surprise me. I didn’t know she considered her closet useful for anything other than hiding objects. She has cramming things in there down to a science. The science of cram-ology.
“Sweetie,” I told her, “I’ll help you tomorrow. We can do all these things, and we’ll get this thing organized once and for all.”
Her face fell.
“Well, mom, there’s a problem. I only want to do these things in the middle of the night. If you let me sleep all day, then we can work on it all night, then maybe that would work.”
I recently read an article about how our thought processes change in the middle of the night. What the article said surprised me.
I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and worry about things — to the point of near panic attacks. Then in the morning, the problems that seemed so big, shrink before my very eyes. If you’d asked me prior to reading the article, I would have said that problems become three times bigger than they actually are.
Yet, the article pointed out that often, in the wee hours of the night, we see things for what they really are. When we wake up, we sugarcoat our problems — so we can cope with them. In the middle of the night, we can see clearly that surmounting these problems or reaching our goals — the beach-perfect body, the financial goals, the organizations — will be monumental tasks. Yet by morning, they dissolve into laughably small problems.
“I can’t believe I lost sleep over that,” I think. Yet truthfully, my 2 a.m. viewpoint is more probable.
I asked my daughter if she felt anxious as she planned cleaning her room.
“No,” she said. “I feel like I can do it.”
I guess she doesn’t have a lifetime of disappointing herself behind her. Of wading through the woulds and coulds, just surviving day-to-day. She has hope that she can conquer the tornado
My job will be to help her do it — to build the plan and tackle it. My lesson will be that it can still be done. The mountains can be conquered.
Overland Park mom Emily Parnell writes alternate weeks. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @emilyjparnell