“You need my help,” he shouts, sans pants and full of fury as his purple marker is out of ink and he needs a “very big whale” drawn right now, please. Where any of this comes from, I hardly know. As Toddler’s language develops, his phrases are increasingly amusing – he’s an accidental and illiterate riddler. “You need my help,” he says, because he mixes up his subjects and his objects, and because he will not stand to be corrected, not by me, because what do I know.
Despite the fact that I’m now very near my manuscript deadline (October 1! It looms!), Toddler continues to insist that he be the centre of attention at all times. He is two, nearly three, and frankly doesn’t give a shit about my timelines. YOU NEED MY HELP. So, despite the pile of work I still have to do, I’m still spending an inordinate amount of time pushing Thomas and his railway friends off “bumpy” bridges to their deaths, and reading books about “very scary” animals (and mimicking their sounds, because of course I know what sound a sloth makes?), and drawing whales and rainbows and whole families of monsters (this way, not that way, not blue, not green).
If this is having it all, then out of necessity I am doing it on very little sleep. I think that is the secret to having it all: you just have it all all the time, with no breaks.
I’ve never been much of a sleeper anyway, but I have heard about rest and think I might like to try it someday. I wonder what I could achieve if I had a full night’s sleep? Maybe I’d remember to turn on the dishwasher before the smell of old food and dirty dishes takes over the apartment; maybe I’d stop buying so many cans of red kidney beans – I needed one can to test a recipe one last time and somehow, over the course of a week, I ended up with five. I hope I remember to use them.
But still, we’re getting there, if “there” is a finished book and a happy toddler and dinner on the table eventually; I’m still going to work every day, and functioning as an adult most of the time. We have not yet run out of toilet paper. I did finally remember to pay the hydro bill.
Most of my work gets done after dark, and so I approach bedtime with eyes stinging from the glare of a back-lit screen. Sleep experts advise that this is not a great way to ease into bedtime, but sleep experts are probably not much fun. You are supposed to avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime, I’ve read, or else the light tricks your brain into believing it is daytime. I like to think my brain is smarter than that; in truth, it’s probably much dumber, because it’s never not tired and if it was really clever, it would knock me out from time to time to catch itself up on some rest. YOU NEED MY HELP, Brain.
So, to sort of limp towards unconsciousness, I’ve devised a beverage that calms me down the way my morning latte picks me up. Tea lattes have become bookends to my day, and it’s kind of nice. It’s soothing, and sweet, and if you drink it in bed while you read a few pages of whatever David Sedaris book you have on your bedside table, you’ll drift happily off to sleep, with little to no fretting about all the things you still have to do before dawn.
- 1 mug full of milk
- 1/2 tsp. honey
- 1 chamomile tea bag
Measure a full mug of milk, then dump it into a small sauce pan. Add the honey, and whisk to mix the honey into the milk. Add the teabag.
Gently warm the milk to the point where it just begins to bubble, somewhere between 170°F and 180°F. When it reaches this point, remove the pot from the heat and set your timer for five minutes.
After five minutes, pour the milk back into your mug, discard the teabag, and go to bed.