Getting So Much of the Not Having of the Sleep – Day One in Barcelona, Spain

“I feel like I am going to DIE,” I whispered from 17F across the plane seats as we jetted toward Spain.  It was midnight to my body, Eastern Standard Time, and I had been upright for 18-plus hours.  Kid A, my sisters, and I had flown into Atlantic City from Atlanta the day prior, then traveled on Monday in a monsoon by bus-limo to the Philadelphia Airport to take a flight to Barcelona, which would land 8AM on Tuesday.  I hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep.

"There's a colonial woman on the wing!  She is dressed in traditional colonial garb." - Annie, Bridesmaids (2011)

“There’s a colonial woman on the wing!” – Annie (after she mixed alcohol with Xanax during a flight to Vegas), Bridesmaids (2011)
P.S. I really took this photograph on our flight from Atlanta to Atlantic City.  Isn’t it so cool?

“It’s like when you have a newborn!” exclaimed Sister B, who was against the window in 17A.

From 17 D, Sister C agreed.  “Yeah, I would trade just about anything for some sleep right now.”

Kid A had been sleeping in 17C for three hours.  Teenagers can sleep anywhere.

We were so jealous.

“I would trade my first-born for a reclining pod in First Class,” I admitted.  “And conveniently, she is on this plane with me.”

There was no one in 17E, but we still couldn’t get comfortable enough to rest.  And there were miles to go before we would sleep.

We arrived in Spain to beautiful weather… it was bright sunshine and 80-plus degrees outside.  After waiting and gathering our luggage, and a quick power nap for me on a cold, marble pillar nearby, we boarded a short shuttle to our port of departure.

Conveniently, we were able to go to our rooms on the ship earlier than expected.  Our luggage hadn’t arrived yet, but we quickly got the lay of the land and saw the room we would call home for the next twelve days at sea.  “Tiny” was a generous description, especially with three of us sharing a berth, but no matter.  This was going to be an adventure!

The Royal Princess was scheduled to push off later in the day.  We weren’t due to be on board until 5:30PM, so several of us decided to tour Barcelona for the day.  We took a bus into the marina district and we walked from there.

For those of you still keeping track, none of us had slept since a couple of nights prior.  And we were getting a little punch-drunkety.

We made our way through the narrow, crowded streets as we held our purses close to our bodies.  We walked around with cameras pointed at the architecture and other unique sights in an attempt to capture the feel of the city in just a few short hours.  All I could see was graffiti, discarded McDonald’s wrappers, some fairly unsafe construction, and a lot of other tourists.

It is weird what sleep deprivation can do to you.  I was exhausted on a cellular level.  Yet, I still thought it was beautiful.  And I was in Spain.  Amazing!

After much walking and a little window shopping, we finally found the Museu Picasso.  I remember seeing paintings and vases and pitchers and sculptures, but I only saw them with my eyes, not with my heart or soul.  I didn’t feel any connection to the artist at all.  Utter and extreme weariness trumped everything at that point.  My dad sat on a bench by the gift shop.  He sighed and said he  thought he was missing the art gene.

untitled-1937-11

“Picasso used to say to me, ‘The smell of opium is the least stupid smell in the world'” – Jean Cocteau

Really and truly, how high was Picasso when he painted that?

Eventually, it was All Aboard.  We also desperately needed showers.  So we checked in and we scrubbed and rinsed the travel off of our bodies just in time to follow the crowds to our assigned Muster Stations for a quick safety drill.

We were barely still standing upright as we carried our bulky, orange accessories down to a dining room, with the rest of the people with whom we could potentially share a life boat or a deserted island for the rest of our days.

A message was delivered via loudspeaker from the ship’s captain.  He sounded exactly like the school principal from the television show Glee.  Every night for the rest of our cruise, when the captain would address the ship from the bridge, I would make the same comparison and think what a wicked shame it is that that talented Cory Monteith boy died earlier this summer.  Oh, Finn… such a waste!

During the rest of our practice at Muster Station F, we sat at a table with a mother and her daughter.  The teenage daughter was not yet unplugged and she was fiddling on her phone.  The mother was lost in her own thoughts, but likely hearing Sister C, Kid A, and I as we mumbled how completely and utterly tired we were.

I had become completely nonsensical at that point.  I said something to Sister C and Kid A about “getting so much of the not having of the sleep,” and they burst out laughing.  They knew exactly what I meant because they felt it too.  We were totally sober, yet completely intoxicated by our sleep deprivation.

Hey!  Maybe I did get something out of the Picasso Museum.  Do I smell opium in here?

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday.  It was also a Monday, so it was laundry day, grocery shopping day and Kid A had an interview in midtown at 7PM, so she and Sheepdog were not home for dinner.  Best birthday ever, you say?  Wait… it gets better.

The day started around 12:15AM when Kid E moseyed into our bedroom and asked to cuddle with me.  As I took him by the hand and led him back to his own room, I cursed him silently for waking me.  This back-and-forth routine continued over the next three hours.  The silent cursing did not last long.  Every time I would start to fall asleep again, Kid E would tap me on the shoulder.  By the hundredth time I felt like I was being tortured.  On one trip back to his bed I told him congratulations on giving me the worst birthday present ever.

His confused response was, “But I didn’t even get you a present.”

If somebody is up during the night I always try my best not to disturb Sheepdog, because he has to get up early and go to a real job.  By 3:45AM I was exhausted, infuriated, desperate, and on the verge of tears.  I no longer cared about Sheepdog and his stupid job.  So the next time Kid E came in I ignored him.  Sheepdog finally heard him (“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom…”  Seriously, how does the man NOT wake up?) and he jumped out of bed.

“WHAT?” whisper-yelled Sheepdog.

“I have to pee,” said Kid E, very matter-of-factly, with a hint of “What would you have me do…urinate in my bed?  I’m no savage!”  So Sheepdog took him to the bathroom and then back to his room.  At last, the kid was sleepy enough to stay in there.

“Happy Birthday, ” Sheepdog whispered to me when he came back.  “I’m sorry you’ve had a crappy night.”

“I’m thinking of moving out,” was my very serious response.  I don’t remember if I dreamed over the next three hours, but if I did it was probably about locking myself behind multiple doors with heavy deadbolts.

I wish for world peace. And for skinny thighs.

I woke up later to Kid D screaming that his stomach hurt as he was running past me into my bathroom.  “I don’t feel so good,” he sighed as he crawled in bed next to me.  I didn’t even care if he had washed his hands first.

As I was zombie-walking down the hall to put Kid C onto the elementary school bus, I realized that Kid B had overslept and she would need a ride to school.  This keeps getting better.

Actually, it did get better.  Kids A, B and C went off to school.  Kid D felt fine, so I dropped him off as well when I was taking Kid E to preschool.  Then I went home and collapsed until I decided to make my own birthday cupcakes for dinner.

Sleep is a funny thing.  I am a girl who needs a good nine hours, so I rarely hit my mark.  I make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends (Shout out! Sheepdog for helping me do that) and taking occasional naps.  You’d think I would be used to interrupted rest after having five babies, but I never adjusted.  The cumulative effect of sixteen years of sleep deprivation has left an indelible mark on my personality.  I’m meaner and even more sarcastic.  I have even been known to growl on occasion.  I have to use more under eye concealer.  It is not a good thing.

It is a good thing that Kid E has some sixth sense thing happening, because he was one more sleepless night away from being put up for auction on eBay.  Last night he went to bed without incident and then slept through the entire night.  I am a different person today than I was yesterday.

Today I feel like I can take on the world.  Today I feel like I am a Disney Princess and everyone around me is a singing animal.  Today I am She-Ra, Princess of Power.  Today I feel like Wonder Woman and Laura Croft and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all rolled into one, except not all fit and and wearing some sexy ass-kicking costume because I’ve just been too tired to work out lately.

But today I have the energy to fix that!  I’m gonna go work out right now.  Then I’ll probably take a nap, because who knows what tonight will hold.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

How Did I Do Last Night?

Yawn.

Despite the fact that he is now four, we continue to deal with Kid E getting out of bed and wandering into our bedroom in the middle of the night.  He does not do this every night, but probably two or three nights a week he will come into our room when we are in the deepest of R.E.M.s and stand over one of us (usually me) without so much as a word like Snoopy’s vulture character, with only his piercing stares jarring me out of sleep in a fight or flight mode that can only be replicated at point-blank range or by the Blair Witch Project.

Oh, did I wake you?

He will then crawl into bed between us.  And by “between” I mean practically underneath me with his big, fat, hard skull jammed into my lower back.  The position is so awkward that it is actually Cirque du Soleil-worthy.  And it is not exactly conducive to me falling back to sleep, nor is the adrenaline surge caused by being suddenly woken up out of a dead sleep.  But he mumbles in his sweet baby boy voice that he woke up lonely and he wants to cuddle and how can you say no to that?  And then he gently strokes my cheek while simultaneously sucking his thumb and tells that he loves me.  I am such a sucker for the sweet-talking boys, so I let him stay.  When he falls back to sleep I will ever so gently carry him back to his own bed, tuck him in and then start the painstaking toss and turn dance that awaits my stupid forty-year-old body and mind.

Yawn.

But I have had it.  I do not like having my sleep interrupted.  And I have tried everything with this kid.  He says he’s lonely, so I give him stuffed friends to sleep with.  He says he needs something to drink, so I give him a small glass of water.  Inevitably he then says he needs to pee, so I take him to the bathroom.  I threaten, cajole, reason, plead.  I have used positive reinforcement and negative punishment.  I have been unrelenting in carrying him back without a word every single time he comes into my room, even when he does it fifty times in a single night.  I have occasionally let him crawl in without ever waking up.  Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t.  And the absolute most annoying part is that Kid E claims that he remembers nothing about getting up in the middle of the night.

Maybe there’s something wrong with him.  Maybe he has some sleepwalking zombie disorder.  Maybe he’s just a stubborn little monkey.  I do not know, but he just might be the kid who breaks me.

Every single morning he comes into my room and with sleepy eyes and a gravelly voice, he asks, “How did I do last night?”

Giant yawn.  

I was awake for well over two hours in the middle of the night.

“You are killing me here, kid.  You don’t remember coming into my room at 2:30 in the morning?”

“Um, no.  What did I do?”

At this point, I believe that he has either decided that playing dumb will get him a lesser sentence, or he’s gambling that maybe I am so tired/ old that I’ll forget everything.  Either way, he is like a black-out drunk friend from college who needs a recap of all of the events from the previous evening.  It can get annoying.  He also has taken to defending his actions from the night before, sometimes creatively, but usually with very matter-of-fact explanations.

“Dude, you were awful last night.  You tried to get in bed with me and when I took you straight back to your room you insisted that you needed something to drink.”

He almost laughed in relief.  Then he looked me straight in the eye and said with complete conviction, “Mom, sometimes thirsty happens.”

I almost expected a “duh” to follow, but he is good at reading an audience and left it off this time.  And in my sleep-deprived haze his justification seemed completely legitimate.

Yawn.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…