I tip-toe up the stairs, balancing first on one foot and then the other, dodging the stairs that creak, the areas of the floor that give way…. holding my breath for every misstep. I’m the night owl in the family. It is well past my pumpkin turning time, the hands on the clock creeping towards 2:30am. I know better. I do. But I love what I do. And I love to do it in absolute peace. In fact, I find I must do it in absolute peace. My brain needs the silence to expand and produce.
I have free time during the day, which is a treasure, I know. But the dog barking, the building of the house across the street, my husband working in his office upstairs, my phone ringing, FedEx visiting… it all adds up to a series of distractions I am shielded from when surrounded by darkness.
It is like the Princess and the Pea settling in to my brain, searching for comfort in what should be a perfectly reasonable environment and finding none. I toss and turn. I write a sentence and delete. I distract myself with email. I make a to-do list. I add items I have already done, crossing them off as quickly as I scribble them down, mastering a fake sense of accomplishment. I begin to feel the tightening in my chest, realizing that the list is growing. And yet, I am not doing. I switch positions, attempting to dislodge the pea. There now… under my left shoulder… that isn’t so bad. Until I begin to type….. and it slides down lodging itself beneath my wrist. The hammering across the street is persistent. The dog wants to go outside. I stand up and walk around. I wander to the kitchen. Caffeine? Tea? Something to move that dreaded pea to a place I cannot feel it, so I can focus.
My time is running out. Staring at the clock becomes an insomniac’s game. I have five FULL hours until the small people are home from school. I might be able to save the world in that time. I have 4 hours and 22 minutes. What have I done for the last 38? Right. I opened emails. Buckling down. Ignoring the pain from that pea. One paragraph, two paragraphs, three paragraphs, the dog wants in. DAMMIT. I was making progress. I will put it on my list. 3 hours. 41 minutes. 3 hours, 12 minutes. My day is disappearing. FedEx is here.
The clock continues to tick. In no time, my small people bound through the door, sticky faced, flushed from the adventures of the day and I shake the Pea loose, place my Princess crown on the shelf. I will fight this battle again in a few hours. For now, I tackle third grade math, first grade reading and remember I am a night owl for a reason.
When prayers are said, covers tucked and the fridge makes its last winding down sound of the night… I take a deep breath. It is once again time to begin my mental trek into creativity. I wish I could say it flipped like the switch of my angels’ night lights. Sometimes I slide right in, wrapping the covers of inspiration around me, completely immune to outside distraction. But more often than not, I find myself fighting initially, bruised by that small, insignificant pea, until I am capable of pushing it out on to the floor of my mind, so I am free to write.
But when I am done writing, I am free to sleep. I softly climb the stairs crawling beneath the sheets of my bed, grateful for the comfort of soft pillows. As I settle in, I’m awed by the little arms, normally not in my bed, flung instantly around me, the sweet head nestled into my shoulder, soft hair against my cheek and the warm breath against my neck, “I love you, my mommy”. His sweet hands find my heartbeat and hold steady, keeping me safe, centered and at peace.
A Night Owl’s last thought….I will be the Princess and the Pea anytime.