I never get enough sleep, and it’s not just because I have kids or because my job requires me to get up at 4am everyday. I wake up when the kids, the alarm clock and even the cats are completely silent. I wake up every night, sometimes multiple times for no reason at all, but now I think I know why.
When I was a kid, I woke my Mom up on a nightly basis. It started when I was 14 and we moved from a small North Carolina town to a condo in Marietta, Georgia. It was 3-stories tall and made up mostly of glass, which in the mid-1980’s was incredibly cool. I had the top level, Mom had the middle level, and the staircase that connected the whole thing was next to a wall of windows.
We loved our new home until we found out the man we bought it from had moved in with his girlfriend and promptly beat her to death. It was at that moment I decided our condo was haunted. There WERE some unexplained instances that I won’t go into here (saving those for a Halloween blog) but I don’t know how much of it was REAL and how much was an over-stimulated girl-brain. The point is I never slept well in my bed again.
I remember countless nights of waking up in a cold sweat, CERTAIN something was in my room, and the terrible flight down those stairs to my Moms room. I was certain, as I ran past the giant windows, that something was watching & waiting to grab me. Honest-to-God, I’m getting chill bumps just writing about it. I would jump into my Mom’s bed and TRY to be cool about it.
“Well, I am now.”
This might not seem like a big deal. I’m certainly not the first kid to crawl in bed with a parent, but this continued, several times a week, until I graduated from high school. The more I slept in her bed the more impossible it became to sleep alone. Even after I graduated from high school and moved out of my house, I would CALL my Mom at night when I couldn’t sleep. I did this so often that she made me promise to open each call with, “I’m alive. I just can’t sleep.”
I’m sure she WANTED to ignore those 3am phone calls, but she was certain the ONE time she did, I would be smeared across some Georgia highway. So she always picked up and she was always sweet about it, even when I started calling IN MY SLEEP. How messed up is that? I would wake up from a nightmare; phone IN HAND, screaming about the giant neon-spiders that were crawling on my ceiling. Sadly, this is a true story. I even remember Mom’s response:
“Honey, I’m pretty sure they don’t make spiders that big.”
(For the record, no drugs were involved in this particular instance.)
This is why I won’t let our kids sleep with us. I don’t want them to get hooked on it so I always say NO when I wake up & they’re standing next to my bed.
“Go back to bed or go sleep with your sister,” is my usual response.
I’m doing it for their own good, so they can learn how to sleep alone, or at least how to put themselves back to sleep without being next to a parent.
My mother is no longer with us but I imagine this must REALLY piss her off. She has got to be infuriated to see me, night after night, sending my own children back to their beds. She probably told herself on those many sleepless nights, “Oh Julie, you’ll get yours. One day when you have kids of your own, you will GET YOURS.”
So when I wake up every single night for no reason at all, I know that’s it’s just Mom exacting her revenge. I feel certain she’s sitting in some comfortable spot up in Heaven, laughing and throwing pebbles at my head.
“Well, I am now.”