Doing the math

When the morning arrives and it’s jumpstarted by children saying it’s go-time, but the clock is not yet green like a traffic light — and those self-same children were popping like popcorn all night long — I can squeeze my eyes shut and pull my covers up and beg for remission or reprieve. None comes.

Nights and mornings for parents, they’re the hardest; there are no substitutes on the night watch.

Kendra has it harder: Rosie’s unique dependence means she’s requiring her, not me. In Rosie’s nighttime seances, summoning us from the dead, it’s Kendra who must zombie down the hallway, while my own spirit remains mostly undisturbed.

So mornings are mine. Pulled from the grave into some kind of reluctant aliveness, I resurrect, resentfully.

My eyes, in this dry climate, in this cold season, in these sleep-diminished nights, feel sandpapered shut. I fumble for my glasses, my watch; I find a sweater to slip over my slovenly pyjamas and stumble downstairs to gesture helplessly at bowls in an attempt to conjure breakfast.

It seems to take an entire day for daylight to dawn. Those pitch-black winter mornings don’t budge, closed tight like a theatre curtain with no show scheduled.

Eventually, somehow, the hills illuminate, the snow is revealed, lightness returns, Kendra joins us, and the day speeds up to regular speed.

How much sleep did we get? When was bedtime? How many wake-ups? When did the day start?

Don’t do the math.

It’s the saving grace that gets us through this time. Don’t do the math. There’s no point counting. Don’t perform the inventory. Don’t attempt to account for the sleep.

A meme Kendra showed me said, “You know that feeling when you plug your phone in to charge for the night and then you realize it was never plugged into an outlet in the first place? That’s sleeping for parents.”

We moaned in solidarity when we read it.

And somehow, mysteriously, energy for the day arrives anyway.

Do these phones run on empty batteries? Some kind of invisible energy source fills these empty bars when nobody’s looking. We parent. We proceed. We live.

Though my morning self wouldn’t like to hear me say this —  eyes crusted shut and body slumped in a chair while kids beg me to please make breakfast — that’s an uncountable abundance, appearing like morning dew.

A part of my face experienced a strange muscle twitch yesterday while I slouched in that chair. It was an odd one: my right eyebrow began to arch up, as if someone else’s finger was trying to make me lift my head up. I went along with it, enjoying the ghostly manipulation, and raised my head to see what was around me: just my noisy family, doin’ stuff.

Thanks, twitching body, I’ll accept your on-the-nose insistence: this is all to be taken in, counting up the things to be grateful for. Maybe there’s math to be done after all.