Tag Archives: sleep

Sleep, Baby, Sleep

When it’s time to go to bed, I can’t walk past my children’s bedrooms without stopping in to check on them while they sleep.  Tonight, I took an extra moment to sit still beside them.  I rested my hand on Vivi’s chest and felt her heart tapping along beneath my palm.  Peace.  In Carlos’ room, I pushed the sweaty curls off his brow.  He stirred then sighed.  I put my hand over his heart and breathed in the quiet in his dark little haven.

There is no faster path to the present moment than feeling my child’s heart beating.

Léon Bazille Perrault [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Léon Bazille Perrault “A Mother With Her Sleeping Child,” via Wikimedia Commons

The Next Right Thing

I have been stretching myself pretty thin for about a month and tonight, it caught up with me and bit me in the tail.  Between launching projects at the new job, the fundraising for Leukemia Society, the mothering, the blogging, the board presiding, the pool vacuuming, the home construction projects, the feeding of the children and the balancing of budgets and setting up play dates and remembering to wash my hair…I am OUT.

Tomorrow at 11:ish, I get to don academic regalia in the Burden Parlor at Wesleyan College, along with the President of the College, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, the Provost, the college Chaplain, the President of the senior class and the President of Student Government.  I am the President of the Alumnae Association.  I love it.  I love love love love love this convocation.  Fall convocation, the formal beginning of the school year at the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women.  We started in 1836 and haven’t missed a year since.

Wesleyan College 2012

Wesleyan College Fall Convocation 2012

We will line up in a double column according to the instructions pinned to either side of the wide doors.  A Junior Marshall will nervously guide us out the lobby and down the steps of the Porter Building, where we will link up with the grander procession.  We will fall in with the faculty, who walk draped in the velvet and satin they have earned through decades of study.  We will walk between the senior class in their new black robes and plain mortar boards.  We will be led by 30 students from 30 different countries who carry the flags of their homelands.

The Candler organ will make the air shake with joy.  We will march down the aisles, through the crowds of first years, sophomores, juniors.  We will take the stage and stand as the seniors file in and take their seats.  A fanfare from the organ and the ceremony will begin.

And in those first few minutes, I’m supposed to stand up and say a few words–bring greetings on behalf of the 8000 alumnae who have gone before this senior class.  And I.  Got.  Nuthin.

Last year, I realized during my drive down there that I had written a speech with lots of references to the WRONG class.  The seniors were Red Pirates and I thought they were Golden Hearts (I can’t even begin to explain right now).  So I improvised a little talk about “ships” like scholarships and internships and fellowship.  It was PERFECT.  This year’s senior class is a Purple Knight class–my own class!  I know their traditions inside and out.  I know the words to the song, the rowdiest of cheers, the hand signals.  

But inspiring words?  Nuthin.

So tonight I was in a swivet.  A tizzy.  A kerfuffle.  And it was just making my panic worse.

Then I remembered a piece of advice from my friend, Jean.  “Do the next right thing.”

I don’t have to figure it all out at once.  Just do the next right thing.  I can’t sit here and know that everything will go perfectly tomorrow.  I can’t nail it down.  But I can do the next right thing.

And that right thing is going to bed.

I’m going to bed with that phrase in my head, and I’ll think of something to tell those young women tomorrow morning.  I’ll see my friend, Virginia, in her professor robes.  I’ll see my friend, Auburn, at her first formal convocation.  I’ll see Annabel and Parrish and Lauren and Cathy and Ruth and Vivia and Susan and I will remember that I am one of them.  I am a Wesleyanne.

Wesleyan College 2011

Wesleyan Women, 2011

College didn’t teach me how to do everything.  It taught me how to discern the right thing.  It taught me how to dare.  It taught me how to improvise.  Wesleyan taught me to believe in myself back then and it reminds me to believe in myself now every time I step on the campus.

So I’m going to rest and tomorrow I will do the next right thing.

Peace Be With You

After Fartbuster and I separated, I had trouble falling asleep most nights.  Too much going on in my head once life grew still around me.  On nights like that, I would close my eyes and imagine myself cradled in a large strong pair of hands, like one of the Anne Geddes baby portraits that were popular at the time.  Curled up safe, free to slip away into dreams.  Like this…

sleeping deer

What’s your favorite meditation when you want to find peace?  

A Tale Told By An Idiot, Full of Sound and Fury

William Faulkner rendered in words from The Sound and the Fury

William Faulkner rendered in words from The Sound and the Fury

My afternoon drive home today got me to thinking about William Faulkner’s masterpiece The Sound and the Fury.  Have you read it?  Do you find it infuriating or mesmerizing?  I’ve read it 4-5 times and it gets better with every read.  The first chapter can drive a reader mad because it is narrated by Benjy, an adult man with the mental capacity of a young child.   Benjy simply has a different sense of the flow of time.  The narrative shifts between time periods, three decades apart, with little orientation to the shifts.  Benjy’s thoughts about his long gone sister, Caddy, flit from one time to another like a drunk butterfly.  I love it, because I love me some drunk butterflies.

Faulkner wanted to cue his reader to shifts in time by presenting the narrative in different font colors, but the printing of the book would have been prohibitively expensive.  Oh well–the publisher did agree to some use of italics to indicate a shift. 

Have I bored you to death yet?  Well, if you’re still reading along at home, here’s why I thought of Benjy on my drive home.  There I sat in an SUV filled with:

  1. a frazzled mother carrying a five lb sack of mommy guilt at having spent the day away from her babies who therefore wants to have Quality Time and Meaningful Conversation
  2. a loquacious almost-six-year old who is attending theater camp to ratchet up her innate dramatic tendencies
  3. a babbling toddler who has discovered His Voice but has not yet mastered English

All trying to talk at once.  It goes something like this.

Mommy?  Yes?  PeePeeBooBeebee  We um played this game there was this boy named Aidan and he was by the fire?  I mean a pretend fire.  Was this a scene you were acting out in theater camp? Peekaboo Beebee!  No, um, Mommy, wait…let me start over   Peekaboo Peekaboo Peekaboo Beebee  Mommy?  Yes?  Aidan saw Bigfoot in his backyard.  Dukadukaduka Dukadukaduka Dukadukaduka   Huh, I’m surprised by that.  Usually people say Bigfoot lives in really remote places.  What’s remote?  Daddy!  Up in the mountains or far away from everyone.  Aidan has a big yard. AIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEYYYYYYYY!  OK.  So what happened when you were around the fire? MOMMY!  Peekaboo Beebee There wasn’t a fire.  Peekaboo Beebee We were ACTING. Right. Shoe!  Hand the baby his shoe.  Thank you.  Why is the O in Schlotzky’s a different color?  PeePeeBooBeebee  That’s called marketing–their sandwiches are round so they’re trying to get you to associate the shape of the O with the shape of the sandwich.  Peekaboo Beebee So um this girl not that other girl but this new girl she was NOT listening to Miss Dukadukaduka Kimberly today and she got in trouble.  She was on red? Dukadukaduka  Noooooo!  That’s school.  Dukadukaduka  This is CAMP.  Can I have a show?  After you’ve had your 10 minutes. Dukadukaduka  CarLOS!  MOMMY!  Carlos hit me with his shoe!  

And trying to keep up with all these threads?  This is why Faulkner drank himself to death.

It’s a lot to manage, this working mother gig.  But now that they are in bed, the lunches are packed, laundry sorted, clutter ignored and bills paid, I creep into their rooms to listen to them breathe and I try to tell myself that I’m doing an OK job.  The last lines of Benjy’s chapter are some of my all time favorite.  They capture the peace and wholeness of falling asleep as a child wrapped in the arms of someone who loves you.  Even if that world has fallen away, it was there for a time.

“Caddy held me and I could hear us all, and the darkness, and something I could smell. And then I could see the windows, where the trees were buzzing. Then the dark began to go in smooth, bright shapes, like it always does, even when Caddy says that I have been asleep.” 

The title of this piece, like the title of Faulkner’s novel, comes from Act V, Scene 5 of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Our family lore holds that my dad has been known to quote this passage when he’s had too much bourbon, which hasn’t happened since shortly before my birth.  Legend has it that he got knee-walking drunk one night at a cocktail party, started quoting this soliloquy and my mother decided to drive him home.  Unfortunately, she was nine months pregnant with me, 5’2″ tall, and stuck trying to drive a stick shift.  I think she cussed him so bad that he hasn’t been past tipsy since.

GEEK ALERT!!!  In researching this piece, I found awesome news for Faulkner fans.

Well, thus ends today’s lesson.  Please read Absalom! Absalom! before tomorrow’s quiz.