I wake up.
Shit, I realize. Something is wrong.
I’m barely conscious - thoughts cannot fully form yet - but I know that I’m not well.
It’s not morning and I’m not supposed to be awake. I don’t look at my phone to check the time, but I can feel that it’s only been minutes since I fell asleep. Maybe half an hour?
I have chills, and I take a few seconds to breathe deeply and pay attention to what woke me up.
In years past, I might have thought it was my son, or my husband snoring, or a neighbour, or some other unusual outdoor noise that shattered my sleep. Nowadays, I know better. Everyone is quiet; it’s just me, and the incomprehensible chronic bodily malfunctioning I’ve been experiencing for years that I won’t even begin to try and explain right now.
Something inside of me shook me awake.
I feel sick. I’d had nasty period cramps before bed, but this skates firmly in the arena of gastrointestinal distress. I breathe through it some more, waiting a minute or two to see if it’ll pass.
Nope. Up I go. Slowly, I rise, careful not to get dizzy. Being awoken so suddenly at this stage of sleep makes me feel uneasy on my feet. I open the door quietly so I don’t wake anybody. I head to the toilet, where it’s both a relief and a disappointment to have to be in the night.
I feel slightly more lucid as I wash up. Back to bed. If I’m lucky, I’ll sleep soundly after this, but things could go either way; I could be awoken like this over and over again all night long.
Then, it’s 6:30am. Or 7 if I’m lucky, or 5:30 if I’m really unlucky and my kid wakes up. Then, it’s time to start whatever day’s ahead. Getting to school, cooking, meals, driving, cleaning, working. Chores. Caring. Playing. Connecting. Talking. More driving. In this case, packing, because I need to travel out of town to play a show tonight.
I’ve been watching a lot of comedies lately that revolve around 40-something moms and their midlife crises. 40-something moms hanging out with single male friends, trying to recapture the exhilarating rhythms of youth. Whether I am watching these things due to streaming-algorithmic finesse or my own latent emotional desires is irrelevant. What I’m curious about is how the fuck I’m going to stay awake past midnight tonight.
A mom in her 40’s, I am, but I’m also a punk drummer. I’m also tired. So tired, for the usual reasons (getting up in the night, missing sleep, and waking up at 6am with a child for nearly 8 years). Also, for less usual reasons (having an extremely heavy period that begins exactly 24 hours before the one night I committed to stay out past midnight, for example.)
Oh, I’m tired, alright. And not only do I need to be awake well into the morning hours, but I also need to be cognitively functional (easy) and physically raring to go (impossible.)
I need to play drums and sing at the same time, vigorously, in a bar full of people, at a time of day when, on any other given day, I would literally be tucked into bed, asleep.
I am still the me who did this every day in my 20’s and 30’s. I found it just as exhausting then, but I didn’t care so much about my well-being. I never went to bed before the AM hours. I also drank, and got high, and those things do wonders to distract a person from what they are doing, thinking, and feeling.
I’m still a punk rocker, albeit a perpetually sober one who is always tired after 6pm. Like the protagonists in my sometimes-hilarious guilty pleasure TV shows, I will power through. Just this once. It’s only one night. I’ll take a nap. I’ll grin and bear it.
Unlike the harried Mom protagonists who wistfully yearn for the career and the friends and the lifestyles left behind, though, I never really stopped doing the thing that defines me. I still wear weird outfits, and hit drums very loudly.
I’m just really, really fucking tired all the time.
My best friend will be with me and he’s tired, too. Only one of us, however, will have blood pouring out of her as the night clocks on, and on. Fresh blood from a wounded womb whose presence has never allowed itself to go unnoticed for the last 28 years. I’ll drink bitter raspberry leaf tea, and take some Shepard’s Purse tincture to slow the bleeding, and maybe even some ibuprofen to dull the pain.
My Epsom salts will be waiting for me when I return, slightly more battered and wholly more exhilarated than when I leave the house this evening, because at least I’m doing something that I love. Something that pre-dates motherhood and night-waking and sore knees and chronic exhaustion.
Here we go.
I’m doing this.
God, I hope I can sleep in tomorrow.
Whoa. This is a movie waiting to be made Jackie. One I would watch without guilt! You've painted a scene using the very pigments of what it means to exist as a 40something Mom. The struggle is real, but the bath is hot and it waits for you; blood, body and bones. Rest up my friend, it's a long(and Wonderfilled) road till our 90sonething seaside dream cottage xoxo we will get there hell+high water!!!