- Nightmares involving fedora-wearing aliens intent on making off with my son.
- The certainty that I have heard a loud noise, which means rising from bed and checking my son’s room and the rest of the house and turning on the laundry room’s light, thus ensuring protection from an invasion of Aliens In Hats until dawn.
- Absolutely nothing at all, just waking, ding-dong, waking up, hi.
Returning to bed, or lying in bed recovering from the nightmare, I will probably think this: I’m up–I will stay up and write–I will stay up and eat-breathe-sleep a poem or chapter of my middle grade novel.
But knowing my son will rise between 5:00 and 6:00a.m. freezes my body. I cannot rise, twitch, or make the tiniest of typing motions. If I don’t sleep, I counsel myself, I will be a rat’s nest of fatigue during the day and I can’t do that to my son.
Lying in bed, physically frozen, my mind has no problem racing through a sad list of naggings that may predate my own birth and involve people I’ve never met, moving on to a poem I might be agonizing over, or a tricky section of my middle grade novel and just when I’ve mentally got IT, the IT that will finish or enhance poem or character trait or chapter ending, I–zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Moving right along…
After the little guy waves me out of his classroom, I hightail it for home and my
bed office. Ignoring glaring domestic goddess issues, I pull up my middle grade novel and all its marketing trappings, or I snatch the pages of my novel that the printer just spit out, retrieve my favorite pen and lean back against my pillows in my office chair or my fingers dogfight over my computer’s keyboard or I reach for The Sea Around Us to fact check something and I’m oof and I’m ugh and I’m seeing in paragraphs and there is no such thing as a Swiffer or chicken flavored hairball remedies for cats or dry cleaning and–it’s time to pick the little guy up from preschool.
And I splash a little water on my face. And probably brush my teeth because there wasn’t time earlier. And I wade through the pet hair in the living room to the shelf where my car keys live, right there next to the dusty spine of The Golden Notebook. And I leave to fetch him with the kind of smile a parent is supposed to have on her face because it’s the kind that can change the world.
When I write is the same for any writer–every second counts.
I wonder how I’d look in a fedora…