Still Drinking Coffee

It’s almost 8:30, and I’m still drinking coffee. I’m soooo tired. I’m soooo stupid.

This is worse than college: I stay up all night, I regret it the next morning, but then I do it again.

All because I am desperate for a couple hours to myself.

Which are crucial. Not enough – and often, I still am not totally relaxing – I remain “interruptible” – Ariel Gore in her book The Mother Trip provides the insight that mothers are constantly interruptible, but we need time to be uninterruptible – it was really helpful to read her words and know that my constant feeling of being on call, on high alert, just ON – 24 hours a day – is not because there’s something crazy about ME. It’s commonplace, it’s hormonal, it’s motherhood.

It’s hard to explain to others that only when my kids are sleeping – and I know they’re asleep for at least half an hour, solid – can I come close to getting absorbed in something else – yoga, intimacy, writing, things that only have a benefit when you’re fully present and not leaving one ear perked like a satellite dish toward the children’s room.

Of course, by the end of the night, when they are finally both truly asleep – usually 10 p.m. – the last thing I feel like doing is yoga, intimacy, or writing. I want to veg. I want to watch bad television. I want to sleep. I want to read cheesy blogs. I don’t want to engage in anything that requires me to be thoughtful, soulful, or energetic. I have nothing left to give at that point. My body has been a source of nourishment, caring, and entertainment since 7 that morning – it wants a break.

So my relationships are suffering – long distance ones, that require phone calls – close ones, that require quality one-on-one interaction. Not to mention, my relationship with myself. Of course, the last thing I need right now is to grow distant from the ones I love. Again, Gore advocates for mothers to make time for things like sleep and meditation and sex – but god, it’s hard.

Sleep is so boring. And meditation and sex – though both can be reviving – require focus. Can I just chill with the Netflix for a good 48 hours? With some ice cream and vino, while someone gives me a massage, does my nails, trims my hair, takes notes for me when a thought of worth actually does crop up, a little crocus amid the weedy landscape that is my untended brain?

If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Gore’s book and her site, hipmama.com. I don’t think I am at all a “hip” “mama” but it’s nice to know hip mamas exist out there. Mothers are not just saggy, docile, vapid yuppies in ill-fitting jeans driving SUVs badly. They are cool and creative and spiritual and sexual and intellectual and responsible for the human race’s various incarnations. They are not a sub-group for political pundits to try and buttonhole, nor are they a ‘they’ to be tapped and targeted by marketers.

More on that later – probably on my new blog…

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5 Responses to Still Drinking Coffee

  1. Mary Beth says:

    A moment I relish is when the baby/child falls asleep, really asleep. I feel my entire body relax, and I suddenly find motherhood completely possible. Not because they are not there, but because thier stillness allows me to actually absorb them, while still being myself. i don’t have to flop around with arms catching toast and pulling toys out of mouths and answering the phone while a baby suckles my breast. (where in that picture is there room for me to BE, at all?).

    One aspect that led me to have chronic insomnia was that I couldn;t think or feel much at all until everybody was asleep (and by that time, there’s lots to think and feel!). Coupled with constant interruptions of sleep, feeling always on high alert, I actually became so poorly functioning in the sleep department that I needed medical intervention.

    Thanks for highlighting these VERY IMPORTANT aspects of mothering that seem to be completely overlooked, forgotten, unmentioned. That you need to have sex….that you need some period of uninterrupted time. This woman is a genius, right?

  2. Elizabeth says:

    “This woman is a genius, right?”

    I think so!

    I remember those days. It’s still that way, even with two teens. If they’re in the house and awake, I’m “on.” When they were babies/toddlers, I used to stay up regularly past 11 just to get some time to myself before my husband came home from the night shift. Just to eat a sandwich in peace.

  3. ChrEliz says:

    what new blog?!

    I loved this post. I don’t have anything to say, except, Right on, Sista! You speak the truth! I do the up-too-late thing too, and for the same reason, and I do the satellite ears thing, too, and and and… You captured it perfectly.

    And you are absolutely a hip mama.

  4. Amanda says:

    I will second that you are absolutely a hip mama. You say its not on purpose… but your slings DO always seem to fashionably match your outfits:)

  5. Shilo says:

    I find myself in the same position constantly. I have three teens , 19, 15 and 14, and an 11 month old son, (#5 on the way in January)
    Regardless of how exhausted I am the next morning, I stay up far too late at night, just to have that ME time that I want so much.
    I bought a Learn Spanish DVD, thinking I would work on it at night while children slept…. nope.
    Have purchased books in the hopes of reading, and had made up my mind to try to get back into meditation….. nope.
    Glad to know I’m not the only one.

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