Insomnia #7 aka "Not that there's anything wrong with some red."

Although, I’m suspicious that even just a couple glasses might contribute to this ongoing insomnia problem. Tonight (is it still “tonight” at 4:29 a.m.?) has brought the usual backache-prompted tossing-and-turning, which sent me to the living room so I could toss and turn without disrupting Bobby’s sleep. Stretching out on the futon sounded promising, but this north wind is blowing hard through the porch, making the cat door squeak. And squeak. And the clock’s ticking, once noticeable, cannot be ignored. So I’ve barricaded the cat door best I can, taken a couple ibuprofen and continued to ponder how my New Year’s resolution to do everything right is panning out.“Doing everything right” doesn’t translate into being perfect; the phrase is how I’m attempting to refine my actions based on how I want my life, long-term. Which would seem simple, boring, a no-brainer – except both human complexity and the whims of fate sometimes trigger actions that conflict with what I really, really want. (Suddenly I’m hearing the Spice Girls: “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want….”) Some of this is boring and basic: if I want to save money, I need to stay within my budget; if I want to lose this weight I’ve gained, I need to eat less and exercise more. Yawn.

But I am by nature, indulgent. Fun and passionate. Would having a down payment for a house at the end of the year be worth giving up all the dinner parties? All the nights out? Maybe. Probably. I don’t know. I want a lot. I’ve never lost weight by dieting, really – I’ve been in great shape because I’ve found something that feels good (aerobics, walking, hiking, swimming, surfing) and been motivated to do it regularly so that I default into health. For all my organizational ability and willingness to work hard (it’s on my resumé, so must be true), self-discipline is not my strongest point.

“May you live an interesting life.” That’s supposed to be some sort of curse. Chinese? Neither Google nor Wikipedia knows for sure. So sure, “interesting” in that sense translates to turbulent or frightening – Nick being diagnosed with diabetes was interesting, I suppose, but I’d’ve taken boring in that case. But “interesting” in the sense of growing, thinking, creating, loving, doing, testing, discovering, challenging? Would I have traded having something to write about for stability and security? No. Yes. At times. Depends. I don’t want bad things to happen – but routine makes me itchy, even when I’m the one trying desperately to impose it.

This has shaped up to be one of those posts about thinking and feeling, as opposed to doing. Let me try to fix that. See, when I think about doing everything right, I think in terms of what I care about most: family, friends, writing, surfing. That’s straightforward, right? But what does doing everything right by my kids mean? Providing food, clothing and shelter? So I have to work to afford those things. But doing right by my kids also means being physically and emotionally available for them, so I shouldn’t work so much that I’m always gone or grow distant from their daily experience. Finding this house at the beach resulted from serendipity; to keep them living in this place of love and light, a certain amount of rent is due, but also an investment of time caring for our home is necessary. I neither want to take full responsibility for that nor think letting the kids skate by without chores is good parenting, so I insist on the work being shared. Sensible – but if the kids aren’t pitching in enough, then I’m frustrated and the lecturing, yelling, nagging kicks in. Which hardly helps facilitate the sense of joy I’ve always imagined our home being filled with. And then the frustration turns to despair: is that what my life has come to? And that’s no fun.

So just the day-to-day of doing right by the kids brings a steady onslaught of challenges. Add in setting a good example. What does that mean? Finding ways to solve problems without yelling? Being an involved community member? Volunteering to help others? Teaching them how to cook and build? Reading? Going to work every day? Managing money properly? Following passions because that’s what makes life worthwhile? Eating my vegetables?

What happens when there’s simply too much? When even if I pick the right courses of action, they conflict with each other? When Chelsea was little, I volunteered in her school every year. But at some point, I stopped – and never got into the habit with Kaylee and Nick. That goes against everything I believe in! But I’ve become greedier about how I spend the hours of my days. Or maybe I’m not to blame; maybe my time has been more needed elsewhere. Hard to say. Some days are just about getting by; there are no choices.

Beyond the family needs, I want to write and to surf. Both of those demand, again, time, that ever scare resource.

I feel like my brain is a desk covered with papers. I’m sure the thought I need, the page with the instructions, is somewhere in all this clutter – this clutter, mind you, dropped here by other people – but despite all my sifting and sorting, I cannot find it.


7 thoughts on “Insomnia #7 aka "Not that there's anything wrong with some red."”

  1. “Tonight has brought the usual backache-prompted tossing-and-turning, …”.

    You more than likely need a new mattress, Jennifer. Been there, done that, with the backaches while trying to sleep (and it often extended to after getting out of bed). A new mattress should solve the problem. It did for us.

  2. I love that last paragraph. I’m also trying to “do everything right.” Even though I know it is impossible but…how else do you come close but by trying.

  3. If my insomnia ever came back, I would lose my job. I battled with insomnia from about my third year in college until maybe four years ago. My doctor told me it was a mental thing. So, to spite him, I refused sleep aides.

    Having a lot on the mind is cause for many types of stress related issues. I took the initiative this year to not make any resolutions, except for a couple that might seem … um… negative. Well, anyway, I just want to say that I have had my share of sleepless nights, and I do hope it gets better for you. It did for me, without having to get all medicated at night. I still can’t tell if I was just lucky, or my body just decided that enough was enough.

  4. It seems that this year, more than ever, the “experts” say resolutions are useless…instead, we need a “plan” or a “goal”. I fall asleep fine but once awake, the brain starts “planning” the day…. even if it’s one in the morning. I SHOULD exercise but if I enjoy it, it becomes FUN that must now move down the priority list! My goal is to be a better mom but remembering to take care of me so I have the energy to take care of family is really really hard! Even though my kids are mostly grown, I too spend many restless hours worrying about my parenting skills and their choices. It’s small comfort but you’re not alone.



    Red wine always caused me to wake about 3 a.m. and finally drift off to sleep right when my alarm clock started ringing. I can’t drink any wine at all anymore due to instant headaches. However, I was recently reading about histamines in wine (I do miss it sometimes!), and came across a mention of an amino acid… which lead me to find info like this online: “Try to avoid foods like cheese, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, spinach and wine close to bedtime, as these foods contain tyramine, an amino acid which raises the release of the brain stimulant norepinephrine and promotes alertness.”

  6. So much concern about my drinking and sleeping habits – I’m touched! Working from the bottom up: –k – that’s it exactly, and I will be cautious about those other foods as well; beachcomber – thanks for the perspective, once again, of someone who has “been there”; boy – thanks for the good wishes, and kudos for you for your self-betterment; Heraldo – I enjoy both white wine and gin and tonics (although I consider them hot weather drinks from growing up in the desert), but neither seems to agree with me, or perhaps it’s the rapidity with which I can suck’em down?; Kym – thanks, that last line made writing everything previous worth the effort; Fred – I totally hear you, but we just bought a new, high-end mattress set last year in hopes of curing my back and so far, no luck. I think the issue is more on of improving and maintaining my physical health.

    Speaking of which, I was down sick for two days: hours and hours of vomiting followed by day of fever. Apparently, it’s going around. Stay well everyone!

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