Through my earplugs, I can hear the eerie creak of my glass door knob turning. Little naked feed pad across the wood floor, over to where I am sleeping. Or rather, pretending to sleep, hopeful that my lifeless form will deter her.
“Mom? Is it time to wake up yet?”
I half open one eye. I am of the mind that if I open it any further, I will be pulled too far over the line, into consciousness, and will not be able to fall back asleep. One look at my digital clock confirms my suspicions. It is exactly 5:34. AM.
“No,” I say gruffly. “Go back to sleep.”
“But it’s light out!”
“It’s too early. Go back to sleep.”
She slams my door and runs back to her room, in a huff.
I toss and turn for a half hour or so. Too angry and resentful for my brain waves to slow down enough to hit delta, the deepest stage of sleep. I throw a shirt over my eyes to block the early morning sun filtering through the holes around my air conditioner. I hug my blankets to my chest and feel the vibrations of my heart beating against them. At last, sleep sneaks up on me, furtive and strange. I am immediately absorbed in a vivid dream where an agent is asking me to read a chapter of a book I have just written. The words swim on the page, refusing to make sense, and I can’t even recall the gist of them let alone recite them verbatim.
“Mom, is it time now?” Jolts me out of my sleep. I could almost be grateful for being rescued from my predicament, except that I’m immediately aware of the fact that I’m not sleeping. And my annoyance trumps my gratitude.
I glance at the clock. 6:30. Are you kidding me?
“NO! Get back in your bed.”
“No! I’m done sleeping.”
“Then go back to your room and look at books.”
“I looked at them all already.”
“Sophie, I am not getting up until 7 o’clock, so find yourself something to do until then.”
“I know! I’ll do a puzzle.”
“Great. Go.” I know I sound mean, but that is what sleep deprivation does to a person.
I am not a morning person. If I had it my way, I’d be up until 1 every night and sleep until 9. I have always loved the night. I love how I feel like the only person on Earth. How quiet it is. How still. At night, anything seems possible. Night is sexier, edgier, more mysterious than day. The hours of light stretch before me, impossibly long. Night, too short.
I close my eyes, but my mind is already whirring: planning the day, reviewing my to-dos, fretting about work. Five minutes passes.
She’s back. “Mo-om.” She whines, drawing out the word from one syllable to two. “Are you up yet?”
“Yes,” I moan. I may have won the previous battles, but I have lost the war.
She climbs into bed with me. “Do you want me to rub your back?” Her voice is full of tenderness. All it takes is this little offer to shift my emotional state from angry to touched.
“Yes.” Her hand lightly passes up and down my vertebrae several times, before she curls her body into mine and pops her thumb in her mouth.
Having passed through three and a half years of phases, I know the early-wakening is time limited. It, too, will pass. As will her desire to crawl into bed with me and cuddle.