a glimpse

Two nights ago, I got a glimpse into exactly how tired I am. I’m sure most parents have had these glimpses, and I’d love to hear about yours if you’ve had one (or more) because (especially when they’re not your own) these glimpses are damn funny.

Here’s my glimpse. I wake up in the middle of the night, for once NOT because Bram is hitting me over the head or crying out for milk, and not because one of the cats is standing on my bladder. No, I wake up because I have realized (in my sleep) that my right nose stud is gone, that it has fallen out of my nose. My left one is there – I confirm this about twenty times – but my right one is gone. I confirm this too, feeling my nostril again and again and feeling more and more panic at the absence of metal. Where is it? Is it in the bed? I start searching the sheets by feel. I get my iPhone to use as a flashlight. Where is it? I’m running the risk of waking Bram now, but it’s dangerous to let him sleep in a bed with a nose ring anyway. He could choke. Or get it stuck in his eye. I actually have these thoughts, and I actually take them seriously. I also think: I should look at the hole. Maybe it isn’t so bad. Maybe I don’t need the right one. And then I think that I shouldn’t look because it might be gross. A hole in my nose. No, I shouldn’t look. But it’s Sunday. Can I even find a new one on Sunday? Will it match my left nostril stud? Will I have to drive to a big city nearby? Can I afford a new one anyway? I mean, they aren’t cheap. Oh, no. I have to find it. I am desperately searching for what must be fifteen minutes. Finally I lay down defeated. I am ready to cry. I will look horrible tomorrow and my son may not be safe in the bed. And then I wonder – amazingly for the first time – if I actually have a right nose ring. I mean, is it true that both of my nostrils are pierced? I’m not sure. I just don’t know. Well, have I ever seen someone with two nostrils pierced? I haven’t. I’m sure of that. So am I likely to have done that? To have pierced both nostrils? And it all comes back to me: NO! That would look absurd! I only have my left nostril pierced, and there that stud is, all snuggled safe in my face. Crisis averted. Such good good news!

The next day, J reads this passage to me from Laurie Wagner’s, “Rah Rah Happiness Pills.” I have some objections to this essay’s portrayal of the NGP role, but damn, this paragraph is gold:

In parenthood, there is no recuperation. There is no rest. Before kids, you come home from the busy world and you let all the pieces of yourself fall out onto the floor, higgly piggly. You breathe, you space out. You shuffle through your home, opening drawers, picking up the phone, looking at a magazine, lying down, reading a book. And then, when you’re restored, you slowly put all of your pieces back inside of yourself and greet the world…renewed. It’s hard to define what is accomplished during this so-called ‘nothing’ time, but the ability to step back from your life and empty out is deeply significant. Parents live in another world. When I find some quiet time…I might begin to let my pieces fall out of me, but moments later I’m shoving them frantically back inside, all jumbled and in the wrong places – a brain where my heart was supposed to be, my liver in my lungs, and my heart in my throat – as I dash to the next crisis.

When your parts are jumbled, you forget things like the fact that only one of your nostrils is pierced. Oh parenthood, you joy of a beast.

[Parents: Pretty please share your glimpses into your own exhaustion now. If we’re going to walk around with jumbled parts, we should at least have lots of laughter.]

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10 thoughts on “a glimpse

  1. For almost four years, while raising a toddler, going to college full-time, working and raising three puppies, I would wake at night at five minutes to midnight feeling responsible for the ending of the world. I would stumble around the bedroom searching for the button I needed to push by midnight in order to prevent the world from being destroyed. It would take my wife’s gentle reassurances to get me back in bed, although most nights I had to mentally push the button in my mind in order to feel like the world would still be there when I woke in the morning. It started the first semester I took an online class, and my subconscious incorporated the deadline for online class submissions as the deadline for the end of the world. This persisted for several years after I finished school, only with less frequency. I still, occassionally, when very tired, wake just before midnight filled with terror and frantic urgency.

  2. We haven’t gotten there yet–mostly I find my dreams just run over into my waking and it takes me longer to realize that there are no aliens, demon princesses, etc. but I am reassured to hear that you have not pierced both nostrils, as I was working up some minor concern for your judgement on that point…

  3. I was thinking throughout the story…oh that must look kinda weird, I’ll have to go look closely at some pictures to see if she carries it off!
    That’s pretty damn hilarious that you don’t even have one in that side. Great quote too. Obviously I’m not there yet with no kids, but just another little hint of what I have ‘look forward to’…hehe.

  4. I was also thinking that I never noticed that both sides were pierced.

    Like Olive, I can’t think of any examples right now. I usually can’t remember which side I last nursed on, but that’s not really so amusing.

  5. I have walked into our bathroom and instead of tossing the dirty laundry in my arms down the laundry shoot located there, I have opened the lid and thrown the laundry into the toilet. I have done this not once, not twice, but on THREE separate occasions.

    I am not an absent-minded person by nature, so I appreciate knowing others are as addled as I feel!

  6. I feel a little stalker-ish reading this since I know you irl, but I saw the link on fb while I was looking for your address last week. The paragraph from the Wagner essay really struck a chord. Last night dd actually went to sleep on her own without us, and we both stayed up late despite being exhausted from the last few needy nights. We didn’t really talk much, both absorbed in ourselves for a while, and I remember looking at the clock and wondering why we were still up and not trying to take advantage of the lull. That paragraph explains it precisely. We both got an oh-so-rare chance to unpack and repack just as we needed, and amazingly, that was more important than catching up on sleep.

    I can’t think of any funny blunders recently, but last week during a middle of the night diaper change, dh grabbed the wet diaper that I had taken off at the last change (and lazily not put in the pail) rather than a clean diaper. :-P

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