It’s been difficult for me to keep my eyes open this week. I’m fighting another cold, a cold I will continue to get—over and over again—because I’m always tired. I never get enough sleep.

But what is the solution? Go to sleep at 9 pm? Then I have no time to unwind after the girls are in bed. Some day, I’m told, my daughters will want to sleep until noon, and I’ll have so much time that I will be well-rested, glowing. I’ll be so well-rested, in fact, that I won’t be able to focus on my writing. I will be paralyzed by the hours stretching before me, and I will be rendered absolutely useless.

Bring it on.

Seriously, if Zoë would sleep even until 6:30, I could get up two or three mornings a week to write and I’d still be getting more sleep than I am now. But regardless of what time we put the adorable little shit to bed, she wakes up singing at 5 am. (Sometimes it’s the ABCs, sometimes it’s “mama, mama, I luff uuuu.” I know, how can I complain about that?)

If the girls didn’t share a room, I’d let Zoë sing and sing and maybe she’d fall back to sleep. (I doubt it, but I’d try.) But that’s impossible. If Stella gets up that early—which she sometimes does despite our fastest retrieval efforts—the level of whining in our house reaches an unbearable pitch.

So there’s that—the unbelievably early riser.

Then there is an addiction to television series on DVD, which makes going to sleep at nine out of the question.

Then there are the errands I need to run for my grandpa, who is holding steady, but not getting better, not returning to normal (and by this I mean his abnormally spry 100-year-old self). He keeps saying to my mom: “Well, what if I don’t feel better? It would be too bad if I felt like this all the time.” His body is not doing what his mind wants, and this—the failings of his skin and bones—is hard for him to handle. So I make his Christmas cards, go over a couple of days a week to do his dishes, which, he told me this morning, didn’t inspire him.

Then there is the book proposal I’ve been working on, which I love. I really do. I love working on it. I love thinking about it. But still, I wish I didn’t think about it during the only twenty minutes all week I have to lie down, to close my eyes. I wish I didn’t think about it on the mornings D is on Singing Zoë Duty. But I can’t turn it off. So I can’t fall back asleep. I can’t nap. Which is why I’m tired. Why my head feels heavy.

And I have work to do. I have things to check off Christmas lists. I have cards to get in the mail. I have presents to wrap. I have books—more and more books piling up on my shelves, on the edge of my desk—to review. Hell, I have cookies to bake.

But all I really want is a nap. Well, maybe a nap on a beach, a nap at the edge of ocean, with the sun beating down on me. Yes, that’s what I want.


  1. ask santa?

    i hear you completely. i wish i knew the last time i got 4 hours of sleep in a row. i believe it's been decades.

  2. Oh I remember those days. But they will end, they will, and you'll have some early writing time and you won't be so very tired. I hope you feel better soon.

  3. A virtual nap, perhaps? You know those days with the early risers WILL end and well before they sleep until noon. You'll surrender to them getting up on their own on weekends, watching tv, etc.

  4. My first used to wake at 5:30 no matter the bed-time. I can't remember how old he was (he's almost five now, and I'm thinking it's been most of 2009) when he transitioned to 7 or 7:30, but he did. He did grow out of it. Hang in there.

  5. i wish for you a glorious, drooling-on-the-pillow nap that bends time in such a way that you awaken restored and refreshed and still have a bubble of precious writing time. xx

  6. I remember my days of being so sleep-deprived I felt drunk all the time (and not in a good way.

    Hang in there. make yourself GO TO BED EARLY for a few nights in a row. Forget unwinding. Forget time with D. Forget the show. Just for a few nights!

    It's hard to do, but worth it. Totally worth it. You need long stretches of sleep to restore your marvelous brain! Seriously!

  7. I'm so right there with you. Thankfully, my kids actually sleep in, but at least one of them manages to be up until all hours of the night, keeping me from even starting my work until I probably should have my pregnant butt in bed. Then there is Christmas, two birthdays the week of Christmas, and regular household tasks.

    I hope you manage to snag a nap or a late sleep sometime soon…

    Take care,

  8. I am with Kyra, Kate. I wish you a nap. I am sending you calmness and steadiness to use when you need it.

  9. Kate,

    Thanks for sharing your slice of life. The real stuff. The source of good writing.

    I agree with Patty. Give up some evening time for sleep. Friends will love getting Christmas cards in the new year. Your husband will understand. You will be giving yourself time you need to restore your energy.

    Easy for me to say.

    God bless and Merry Christmas to you and your family.


  10. Thanks, everyone. Miraculously, I DO feel rested today (which is why I woke up at 4:40 am!) It helps to fall asleep by accident at 8 p.m. (You're right, Patty.)

    And now, at 5:30, Zoë is still sleeping. Maybe I can get another half hour from her, even.

  11. your life and mine sound quite identical at the moment.

    I feel torn between TV series to unwind, writing and sleep constantly – watching series with my partner is the way we bond after a busy day, as sad as it sounds (i used to mock my parents for doing this when i was a teenager and very anti-TV)it often feels critical we get this time for our sanity, but i feel guilt that I am not using my time writing at night…but as much as there are times that I love writing, it is hard work essentially and there's enough of that involved in having little ones to care for.

    I too have an extra early riser, my friends speak about their babies getting up at 7.30 and I just can't imagine how refreshed I would feel.

    what TV series are you watching? we've just finished a season of Mad Men and are on to Breaking Bad which I love.

    anyway happy early rising, know there is someone else out in the world dealing with the same challenges and temptations.

  12. Well said! Mama writers love to talk craft and rave about writing and reading and publishing and such, but truly, isn't the time-balance thing the most real issue for all of us?

  13. So, I was sure with the new year I would get up early (night wakings be damned) and that I would devote more time at night getting through "chores." But I didn't after the first and I didn't today, the first MONDAY of the year…Until the babe sleeps thru the night I can't get up early. And at night I just can't do anything. I just can't. Today I asked myself, "How are you ever going to get anything done if you don't wake earlier or stay up later." The answer fell on me like bird poop: "Do less." I don't want to do less, but that has to be the way if I can't get up early or stay up late. Sigh. Wish I needed less sleep too!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.