It’s starting to get light. I can hear the dogs shifting on the couch in the living room. My bed clock is ticking now, with only a few minutes left before their rustling will turn to whining, then barking to be let out.
I really need to figure out a different sleeping arrangement for them. And train them better. Or at all.
I groan, and stumble out of bed, pushing away Penny’s wet nose from the back of my leg as I slide the heavy back door open. The big one leaps out and the little one races past her to the grass. I close the door behind them and lurch back towards my bedroom, my eyes still too puffy to open all the way. Fucking pollen.
I lay back down, willing myself to fall back asleep before the barking starts again, and now listening for the next wake up call. Soon our little one will turn his doorknob, the imitation of rain will fill the hallway as his white noise machine projects sound out of the room he shares with his big brother, and he’ll stand in my doorway, staring at me pretending to sleep.
It’s not even 6am yet.
More groaning. More sighs. I’ll coax him into bed with me for snuggles while I fight the space in between awake and asleep. Mad that it’s somehow another day. The same day. Defeated thinking of the morning, and hours yet ahead.
Every day. Day after day. I hate this.
After this we feed the dogs, and I feed the child and make some coffee and bargain some time to drink it. Some days I give in and he gets cartoons right away. Other days I insist he wait until my work day begins at 8am. The next two hours feel like two weeks.
We have no structure anymore, just things that need to get done, eventually. I have zoom calls to be on, tasks to complete, research to do. He wants my attention. And food. So much food. But mostly my attention, my undivided, focused, enthusiastic attention.
I just want sleep. And more coffee. And more sleep.
I’m so tired all the time now.
The day will pass. We will walk or bike. We will collect bugs or snails. We will do a project. He will get too much screen time. Our older kids will sleep in for too long and procrastinate doing their schoolwork and I will halfheartedly check on it but we all know I probably can’t really help them with anything until later and so it doesn’t really matter.
My husband will be on calls all day in his office garage and I will dance between my tiny laundry room office and the main parts of the house. I will start tasks, and those that aren’t same day deliverables or on camera will become a blur of images and text on my monitors and I’ll have to reread or restart them five times and though I’ll have spent four hours avoiding them I’ll only take one to finish them.
I just can’t really focus unless it’s urgent.
But it’s all urgent. Or maybe none of it is.
I don’t know anymore.
I check in with some friends during the day, especially with my cousin Laura. We exchange our sorrows, and memes and frustrations and I feel less alone in this void.
The big kids will do chores without complaint and make sure to feed themselves and generally provide a sense of levity and connection for our family. Only a few more days until they leave to go to their Dad’s house again. Fuck. It sucks when they are gone.
I really ought to be better at managing this.
We will eat so many times. I will clean the kitchen and do the dishes and the laundry and sweep the goddamn dog hair off the floors again and the dogs will bark and I will bark back and I will grumble to myself about how I need to train them better and open my laptop to look up training tips and instead somehow ten minutes later I’m eight paragraphs deep in a sociopolitical essay and my brain has come alive and I’m hot with anger all over.
Like a rubberband smacking my wrist. I’m called back out of this slug like sadness and fully present to the world.
Wake up, Michelle. Your pity party has gone well past midnight, your pumpkin is rotting, and you’ve forgotten where you are and how you got there.