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At 3am

At 3am, I feel like giving up. But I can’t, of course.  I don’t even know what that might entail anyway.  Crying, maybe?  Telling my husband that it’s his turn?  I’d probably stay awake – listening carefully for my moment to swoop in and take over anyway.  So I silently admit defeat and accept that I might not sleep tonight.

At 3am, I’m curled in a ball at the foot of my daughter’s little bed, ready to spring up when her persistent cough triggers a gag reflex. I’m usually quick enough to grab the bucket and rub her back gently as she throws up, but there’s always one I miss in my half-sleep.  I mutter “fuuuuuck” under my breath and, like I’m suddenly split into two parts, I clean up the mess briskly while kissing her cheeks ever-so tenderly.

At 3am, I hate the dogs. In the dark downstairs, as I stumble barefoot into the kitchen to get an ice pop to sooth my daughter’s throat, I anticipate stepping into a big puddle of piss – or a pile of shit if it’s gonna be that kind of night.  Despite having easy access to the backyard, one of our dogs gets lazy every now and then.  The other dog (the good one) grunts happily in his sleep on the sofa as I pass.  I make it back to the steps without incident but am annoyed that the dogs, who obviously don’t work full time, are getting a good night’s sleep.  They’ll nap all day too.  Dumb dogs.

At 3am, I resent that my husband is sleeping in our bed with the baby curled into his chest. In the morning, he’ll claim that the coughing kept him up as well and I’ll roll my eyes.  Being “up” while you lie in bed snoring doesn’t count.  “Up” is an active state – staring at the ceiling, smoothing hair off of a sweaty forehead, racking up the too-good-to-be-true stretches of silence that inevitably end in a fit of gasps and hacks.  The muffled “chug, chug, chug, chug” of the nebulizer becomes white noise.

At 3am, I mentally cancel all of our plans for the weekend. I’ll need to catch up on sleep and my throat has started to hurt.  I’m probably getting sick.  The surprise party for a friend is still two nights away, but I’m already too tired to get gussied up and drink cocktails and chit-chat.  The girls should probably stay at home too.  Pajama quarantine – no germs being passed along, no new germs coming in.  We’ll all relax and watch movies and the house needs a thorough cleaning anyway.

At 3am, my mind is racing. We need soap, thank God it’s payday tomorrow, I need to get Aunt Jenny a birthday card, none of my pants fucking fit, Michael’s is having a 70% off custom framing sale, I should pop a text to Brooke, I miss my mom, I think those three transplanted shrubs are dying, I love kittens, we need to move, chicken nuggets tomorrow……I think she’s finally sleeping.

Then it’s 8am and, coat on and keys in hand, 3am just feels like a bad dream. Despite less than 4 hours of sleep, I’m alert and well.  A hot shower worked some kind of magic, my mind is clear and my pants fit fine. The dog (the naughty one) is now the one curled up at the foot of my daughter’s bed and I scratch her behind the ears and tell her how sweet she is.  I remind my husband about the surprise party and suggest that we do something fun with the girls – get them out of the house for some fresh air and adventure.  He’s actually staying home today, which I had forgotten.  Of course I should be the one still under the covers, but I don’t hold his bed head against him – he’ll do his time when the girls start dating.  I do an abbreviated sweep of the kitchen (thoroughly cleaning is overrated) and head to work.  It’s Friday, after all, and I definitely deserve an Egg McMuffin.

At 8am, I press the reset button. 5 days a week.  No matter what.

Though hopefully tomorrow, at 3am at least, I’ll still be sleeping.

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