The days are long, the nights are short and sleepless, and troubles are plenty. Throughout the day my eyes settle on the clock hung on the living room wall. The hour hand inches forward, a slow progression counting down the moments until the closing chapter of the day. The minutes dilly-dally, the second hand drags on and tired mommy that I am, I daydream about my pillow. Actually, my husband’s pillow (his is better). I drink too much coffee. I change diapers, wipe noses, settle squabbles and chug choo-choos around and around and around the tracks. I drag my exhausted limbs about the kitchen, chopping and stirring and scrubbing. And then the glorious moment arrives. Bedtime. The littles are tucked away sweet and snug and safe. Husband too is snug and snoring and has not yet noticed his pillow has been switched out for my slightly-less-than-adequate lumpy stand-in (the benefit of matching pillow cases). At the end of each long day my body is tired. But my mind is perniciously awake. So when everyone else is off to bed and the house is finally quiet- this precious, hallowed time that all moms look forward to- it is overrun by a frantic procession of noisy tuk-tuks and fretful cows parading around my mind.
The mind is, after all, a flashy place of pageantry and illumination and rumination. It provides a wide toothy berth to chew over a vast assortment of wild ideas and fears and anxieties. It is an excellent space for an endless procession of musings to parade themselves down the Main Street of the mind, glinting and gliding and beauty queen waving as they pass. It is imaginative and beautiful but also dark and menacing at times, as all great parades are want to be. Just think Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Light Parade. Which, by the by, scared the dickens out of me as a child. Now, every night when my head hits the pillow I have my very own front row seat to a private petrifying parade. I think it is the way my subconscious tries to process latent fears and blatant worries. What if they don’t like me? What if this time he doesn’t get better? What if that was the last chance I had to squeeze her oh so tight and tell her that I love her oh so much?
These late-night worries (I like to call them my midnight thoughts because it sounds eerie and poetic and that makes for nice writing) it’s like they are all riding around together on rickety old tuk-tuks with bells and whistles and grime and smelling of diesel fuel, sort of sweet and putrid at the same time. Then there are the cows. Can I let you in on a little secret? I am deathly afraid of cows. These cows bellow and snort and their woeful lowing bespeaks the coming tragedies of life. Oh, the cows! Sad and gaunt and supposedly sacred, they waddle right into the middle of the road and halt and stare blankly on. They have been stealing my sleep. The thieves!
The thoughts on parade bend and twist and take varied forms. Last month in the midst of a sardonic depression the floats carried loved ones long since passed dressed in high school marching band uniforms and cheese… giant wheels of cheese. I have yet to sort that one out. More recently I’ve been struggling with anger issues and doubt. I’ve also been binge watching Anthony Bourdain’s shows on CNN and the Travel Channel. I have sort of a love-hate thing with Anthony Bourdain. In working through anger and doubt issues it is fitting he should assume the role as Grand Marshal of the parade. He is charming and mean and says what needs to be said. He also looks quite dashing in top hat and sash.
And with all these goings on, I simply cannot rest. Forget sleep, I am a mom of littles after all. But I would kill for some quiet, eyes-closed, not thinking about anything, certainly not worrying about everything kind of REST. Alack, instead of rest I get cows and tuk-tuks and a very agitated me wide awake at one o’clock in the morning. Good times! So up on plodding feet I make my way to the kitchen for water and Benadryl. Back in bed I toss and turn. Instead of counting sheep I try counting cows, since they are already here and the poor overworked sheep are probably sleeping soundly after being hardily availed by my three year old who happens to think counting sheep is just the-most-funnest-thing to do at bedtime, especially when dear sweet hubby play-hops around on sweet toddler’s floor, bleating and laughing and carrying on. So I decide to give the cows a try and close my eyes and conjure up a fence… in a pasture… somewhere green. It’s very bucolic. “Up and over!” I order them in my mind. Nothing. The parade has stalled. Maybe they’re hungry. I fatten one up a bit and add an iconic bell on a leather strap around its neck. Nice touch. Unfortunately, Christopher Walken, who also scares the dickens out of me, is now chiding, “Need more cowbell!” Being the accommodating gal that I am (read people-pleaser) I heartily oblige and suddenly I have a field of dairy cows each bedecked with a noisy bell on a mountainside high in the Swiss Alps. Not wanting to miss the fun and sporting a fancy pair of lederhosen whilst hoisting a giant Bavarian stein to his lips, Grand Marshal Bourdain saunters on to the scene.
I try to rest in the comedy. Maybe the cows are not so scary after all. I gaze out on big, sad eyes and a sea of fuzzy ears and docile faces amassed to touch the tip of the horizon. They stare and puff breath out of their wet nostrils. Sigh. I reach over finger and thumb to click the light switch off. In the dark I see them still. Silly creatures, they just stand there, licking their noses with their long black tongues. I swear they are smiling at me.