March 18, 2008

Sleep

I love all these new sleep studies that show that sleep-deprived people have brain patterns similar to people with severe mental imbalances. This cracks me up for some reason, as if it's only just now been discovered. As if it's new and fascinating idea.

Ask any parent and they'll tell you, without the need for any research or study, the exact same conclusion. Being sleep-deprived makes you crazy. It makes you hostile, inept, confused, emotional, hostile and also... grouchy. You find that you put the milk back in the pantry and the cereal in the refrigerator. You lose your keys 99 times a day.

But more than just the clutzy, half-drunk-in-a-not-fun-way, feeling, sleep deprivation effects your ability to function in society. Staying organized, maintaining relationships, keeping chores done and food prepared, driving, parenting... it all becomes harder than string theory to comprehend. The frustration you feel can boil, build and explode in strange ways and places.

I once went to the grocery store late one evening, shortly after my first daughter was born. I had not slept for more than 2 hours at a time in weeks, literally. I got to the store and made it halfway down the produce aisle when I glanced up and caught the eye of an older woman who had been looking at me.

Instantly, INSTANTLY, I was fighting back tears. I gasped for air, abandoned my cart and made a dash for the car. There was no reason, no reality associated with my onslaught of humiliation, but that's what I felt. I bawled the entire way home and walked in to my completely befuddled (but well rested) husband, who simple held me for the next 30 minutes until I stopped crying. Finally, as my hiccups subsided, he asked what had happened.

"I don't know, exactly," I mumbled into his shirt. "This woman...", I started to whimper a little, "This woman sort of... LOOKED at me."

Oh, dear.

March 17, 2008

What's in the Basket?

Some of my favorite memories from childhood include Easter morning. Sneaking out in the pre-dawn light, still clad in sleep-wrinkled jammies, my brothers and I would head straight for the dining room. Setting aside the whole religious aspect of the day, we never doubted that the Easter Bunny (aka MOM) had come by in the night with our baskets full of treats.

Jelly beans, candy eggs, Peeps, solid chocolate bunnies for each of us. All nestled snuggly on a bed of that ubiquitous green "grass" that stuck to everything and could be found clinging in the corners of the house all year round.

Was it the excitement of the moment that made Easter so fun? That thrill of knowing a treat was coming, the first sight of the baskets, brightly decorated and waiting just for us?

Or did we just want the candy, and want it NOW?

As a mom now, myself, I try hard to give my girls a balanced perspective on food. Nothing is verboten, we still all have our treats, but in general, the house is filled with relatively healthy fare and we leave the candy at the store. For me, especially, this is important. I have a massive sweet tooth and it's been a real struggle to stick to a balanced diet in order to lose these last few pounds. So the idea of bringing baskets full of delicious and indulgent treats into the house, you understand, has given me some pause.

I want my girls to have that same excitement for Easter morning that I so clearly remember from my childhood. But I don't want the whole season to start off with the big bang that would be my sugar-high daughter's head exploding. And I don't know if I should pass on the tradition of holidays being centered around treats. Not that it's bad, necessarily, but...considering my own struggles with weight, I don't want to set up any more hurdles for my girls than I have to, you know?

I suppose I will try, once again, for a balanced approach. One easter basket that we all share as a family, some candy, some toys and hopefully a nice long walk to enjoy the beginning of a new season together. An emphasis on health, happiness and togetherness would be slightly shallow, I think, without the touch of shared pleasure at enjoying a special sweet, too.

But, just in case you think I've over-exaggerated the dangers of bringing candy into my home? As I've typed, I've been thoughtfully munching on the bag of jelly beans that I purchased for the family easter basket this morning.

No wonder that Easter Bunny hops so much. He's trying to burn off all the noshing he does between deliveries!

March 12, 2008

Momentum

"Oh, no. I'm going to throw up, I really think I'm going to throw up."

Sitting curled into the chair in the corner of the bookstore, a paperback protectively sheltering my face from sight, I saw her. The thought raced through my panicked mind as my insides suddenly clenched into a one ton brick.

She looked the same, exactly the same. Slim and spare, her small and yet so powerful figure was unmistakable.

We had scheduled this "accidental" meeting, this opportunity to finally look into the other's face and move on from the past. But my heart had been pounding a staccato beat since I walked in the door and my breath was short and compressed from the weight of anxiety on my chest.

I watched her, from my chair, for a few more minutes. Then, taking a deep breath, I folded the book into my purse, straightened my shirt and walked over.

"Hey..."

When she turned towards me, her eyes, blue-green and bright and completely clear, undid me. I started to cry.

"Hi!" We hugged, laughed nervously, hugged again, and joked at my impromptu theatrics. I tried in vain to hide my suddenly shaking hands and voice.

We talked until the store closed, then moved to a new location and talked some more. Nervous laughter punctuated the brief pauses as we both tried to find a place to start. I listened to her, rediscovering her humor and vulnerability and trying so hard to learn her again without the taint of what I once thought I knew.

The biggest impression of the evening? I was happy, so HAPPY, so unbelievably joyful to simply be where I was; with my friend.

It was late, nearly midnight when we finally admitted that it was time to go. Sitting in my car in the empty lot, a brief silence fell between us.

"I just want to say...", I stumbled. "For the record... about everything... I'm sorry for..."

She waved her hand through the air, sweeping my words away. "I know. It's so far under the bridge, it's.... Me, too."

"I just wanted to make sure you-"
"I totally feel the same-"
"Okay, well, as long as you know how I-"
"Yeah, I do, really, it's-"
"Okay."
"Okay. Good."

There we were, alone in the dark in an abandoned place. We hadn't seen each other in a year and a half, at least. Hadn't really talked in even longer than that. Yet, after only a few hours together we were once again completing each other's thoughts.

In some ways, I've always resented the burden of all the years in our history together, as if that time of shared stories held us back from progress or new potential. Today I am grateful for that anchor because it holds me, will or nil, to a person I honestly want to know anew.