Home Alone

cat sleeping

It was two minutes before eleven when she finally finished the novel she had been trying to read for the last couple of days.  The cat was leaning heavily against her leg.  He twitched in his sleep then snuggled in a little closer to her in the big soft chair.

As she stood up and stretched she caught sight of the dirty breakfast dishes still in the sink.  She chose to ignore them and put the kettle on instead.  A cup of tea and a snack maybe?

The pounding rain had eased off to a drizzle and she wondered how her daughter was doing at sailing camp in the cove close to their house.  She had dropped her and a friend off this morning in the early morning greyness.  The had happily grabbed their life jackets and headed down to the dock.  The rain didn’t seem to bother them but she was more than glad to head home to a quiet, dry house for a few hours.

There was something cathartic about being at home alone for the first time in weeks.  The laundry was done, the “to do” list was all but complete, the bathrooms were clean (pretty much) and emails had been answered.  Okay, so the breakfast dishes were a bit of an issue but, really, they could wait.  At least for a bit.  Nobody else would be home until after 4:00 so she had….five hours.  Five hours.  Alone.  Excluding the cat.

June had been a full on month of work, year end wrap ups, ear infections and many, many challenging parenting moments.  Then a week full of Disney and dancing in California.  Late nights, early mornings and crowds.  So many crowds.  The input overload had resulted in a few headaches and numerous medicinal glasses of wine.  And the occasional margarita.

As she poured the freshly boiled water over the tea bag and spooned in a generous portion of honey she thought.

“What should I do now?”

It was genetically imprinted in her that after a few hours of idleness she must now accomplish something.  Her dad was the culprit.  Even at 87 he still wasn’t capable of sitting still for long.  It often resulted in exhaustion for him but damn it if he was going to change now.  So way back in her mind the tiny “stay busy” gremlin was getting restless.  What to do?  What to do?

She could put away the dishes?  There was that stack of filing that needed to be put away.  When was the last time she vacuumed?  Should she talk something out of the freezer for dinner?  Has she call her mom in the last few days?

The cat stood up and yawned.  Circled the cushion and curled up.  Asleep again in seconds.

She thought about it for a moment.  The dishes could wait.  She picked up the remote, turned on the TV and pushed the cat over to the side of the chair.

The Best Thing in Life is changing the way you spend your days once in a while.

 

 

 

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Sleep Anxiety

anxiety

Sleep is a beautiful thing.  Nothing feels better than sinking into your comfy bed, closing your eyes and getting a good solid nights sleep.  It’s rejuvenating.  It’s blissful.  It’s therapeutic.  So when sleep won’t come,  life can be turned upside down.

Over the past few months my daughter has developed what I can only describe as severe sleep anxiety.  She’s never been a great sleeper but this takes it to a whole different level.

It started out pretty low key.  At some point in October she started to say that she could not go to sleep.  Not just that she wasn’t tired.  But that she could not get to sleep.  She would get out of bed a couple of times every night to tell me.  I’d give her a hug, ask if she needed anything and tuck her back in.  But then it changed.

Slowly over the next few weeks it escalated to all out hysteria at bed time.  And by hysteria, I mean a couple of hours of crying, shaking, yelling, pacing and ultimately, exhaustion.  And that goes for all of us.  Yes, I yelled.  I’m not proud of it but at some point (okay,more than one) I just lost it.  It just seemed so simple.  Get in bed, close your eyes and eventually you will fall asleep.  But yet, she just couldn’t do it.  Not wouldn’t.  Couldn’t.

I remember one night in particular when she refused to get out of the bath.  She said that getting out of the bath would mean that she would have to brush her teeth and put her pjs on.  That would mean that she would need to go to bed.  And that, ultimately, would mean that she would have to try and get to sleep.  And in her mind, THAT was not going to happen.  Thirty minutes later the bath had drained and I was sitting on the floor begging her too just step out of the tub.  Again.  Simple.  But she just couldn’t do.

It got to the point where she would pace around her bedroom saying over and over again.  “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t go to sleep.”  I would sit on her bed praying that I could find just the right thing to say that would convince her that she could go to sleep.  I tried positive encouragement, bribery, meditation apps, consequences but nothing would sway her from her stance that she couldn’t go to sleep.

sleeping girl

My husband and I were confused and desperate to understand what was going on.  To see our smart, capable little girl so upset was heart breaking.  So physically agitated that she wouldn’t even let us hold her to try and calm her down.

The emotions that have run through our little family in the past months are difficult to put into words.  We’ve been angry with each other and unsure of why.  We’ve been confused.  Why is this happening?  We’ve been heartbroken and sympathetic.  The need to comfort your child is so strong that when it is of no help, it can be devastating.

The fact that this is, apparently, quite normal in children this age is at once comforting and distressing.  Comforting in that others have solutions that have worked for them and I know that we are not alone.  Distressing in knowing that so many other kids suffer the way that my daughter has suffered.

Recently we have started to give her melatonin at bed time and it seems to have helped calm her down.  She still wakes up a few hours later though and is convinced that she has yet to fall asleep.  What must be going on in her brain to create this anxiety and confusion?

Why, you may ask, am I telling you ( and the world) all of this?  I’m not sure.  Maybe I am hoping that it will help somebody else going through the same thing?  Maybe I am hoping that it will reach somebody who can help me understand it better.

I’m not sure I can end this post with a Best Thing in Life.