For most of my adult life, the standard way I coped when I couldn’t actually get away for a vacation would be to “micro-dose” myself with mental vacations. This usually took the form of honing a craft or working on an outdoor project that required my complete focus. I would put on my headphones and tune out the rest of the world, completely engrossed in my task.
And then came motherhood.
There is this internal mandate that unless my children are asleep or miles away from me, I am in a constant state of passive alertness. It’s not unlike one would expect how “sleeping with one eye open” feels. You don’t actually sleep. You just kind of hover right above anything restful and wake up feeling like you somehow feel worse than if you’d just stayed up the whole time. Now apply that feeling to my attempts at working on any sort of project while my kiddos are home and awake.
The results? I make mistakes. I can’t find fabric pieces I swear I cut out. All projects take me a geological age to complete because every time I go back to work on one, I have to spend so much time trying to remember where I was. This is what happens when your memory leaves with your ability to sleep in on the weekends and they build a wonderful life together, somewhere, without you. Whatever, memory. Who needs you. (The answer is me. ME. Please come back.)
I have experimented with various adjustments to my four-years-and-counting motherhood lifestyle. I tried getting up earlier than everyone else to work on projects. (Or maybe use that time to just sit in silence. Alone. Basking in it.) This is a two-step process: 1. I have to go to sleep on time, and haha that’s cute, and 2. I have to be able to get up without waking anyone else up.
Let’s tackle #1 for a second: my mind is not-so-secretly a petulant teenager about being told what to do. When I say, “it’s time for bed, let’s go!” all of a sudden I can’t stop thinking about how my middle school math teacher was really into peanut M&M’s and man some peanut M&Ms sound really good right now but if I got any I would have to share and… you get the point. *shakes fist at brain*
If I managed to make Step #1 to happen, Step #2 was feasible until my son joined our family. I was spoiled by my daughter – from birth this child has been a good sleeper. I did nothing to deserve such luck. To this day, this kid could sleep through an all-brass elephant marching band no problem. It’s awesome. However, her brother? Not so resilient in the sleep department. He can be woken from the deepest sleep by the creaking of floorboards outside his door. Have I mentioned that I live in a house that’s over 100 years old? I don’t know of a part of this house doesn’t creak, squeak, or rattle. And the door to the upstairs where all of my crafts live (and no child is allowed to enter, muahaha) is across the hall from the kids’ bedroom. And the back door? Somehow the sound of it closing is louder in the kids’ room than right next to it.
Suffice to say, doing anything before the baby is awake is near impossible. And if he is awake, his sister is awake. Apparently her Sleep Achilles Heel is her brother getting attention without her. She will be out like a log but as soon as I pick him up, her FOMO radar gets her up like a shot. So – no go on the early morning sneaky-sneaky projects. I try to do them after bedtime, but again teenager brain kicks in and goes “I’m so tiiiiiired, iowannaaaaa.” And you know what? I fall asleep early no problem. *facepalm*