I have become reluctant to go bed. I don’t mean I have difficulty falling asleep. I have developed a resistance to turning out the lights and calling it a day. This isn’t a new thing, but with children the need for sleep is so acute and every minute counts. It’s become conspicuous. I stay up late, sometimes working, more often in a vague state of anticipation, as though my mind is a ship that will set sail just as soon as the fog clears. It is late, but I hang on. Recently I have started to nod off.
Nodding off is not a nap. It’s more sinister. Sometimes it comes on like anesthesia, a heaviness. Sometimes it’s a velvet hammer, a blow. I see stars, then blackness. After some time has passed, I jerk awake. I am alone in my own home yet there is that vulnerable, almost shameful feeling one has after having fallen asleep on a crowded train with your mouth open.
This happens to people all the time, tiny narcoleptic intervals in life’s flow. I’ve been thinking of its many variations.
A partial list follows (and please let me know what I have left out):
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But these late at night nod-offs of mine are a category of its own. What to call them?
The Daddy Nod-off?
The Parent Who Is Caught Between Feeling Totally Excited At Having Time To Himself And Being Exhausted Nod-off?
And why now? Why, when everyone else is asleep, does staying awake seem so appealing?
I think I’m afraid of my dreams. I haven’t even had bad ones, recently. But just the fact of dreams is frightening, really. You spend so much energy trying to control what your kids are exposed to–their media, the environment, their school. You have to accept (or even embrace) the randomness of the world, it’s vagaries and cruelties. Bit the idea of getting an unpleasant news flash from your unconscious, the vulnerability that comes with receiving this information from within, may be too much.
Or maybe, as Marcelle Clements suggested, in her comment, we are waiting for a sense of familiarity with ourselves to return. We wait and wait. And while waiting, we nod-off.
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