I remember sleep, when sleep was a common, mundane event. I remember sleep when it was simply something required at the end of every day, or something occasionally necessary in the afternoon after a big night out. I remember sleep as a flagship of weekend mornings, along with the paper and a single cup of coffee.
Now, sleep is a hunger. I lust for sleep like I once lusted for sex. I still do, of course, but not the way I lust for sleep. It is a force, a dream, a brimming pool of water on the horizon of my desert, or more often, a mirage.
Occasionally, the mirage does turn out to be real. I crawl on the sandy shores of despairing exhaustion, maintaining optimism and fortitude for the sake of my children the way I would maintain forward motion in the desert for the sake of my life. Instead of busting through the mirage, as usual, being allowed a mere hour or two of consecutive sleep due to interruptions by one tiny captive or another, or by my own aging bladder, instead I’m indulged. Sweeter than a Sex on the Beach. Sweeter than actual sex on a beach. Sweeter than well water from my childhood farm even to a thirsty desert traveler. That is how sweet sleep is on the unexpected night when I’m given 8, 9, once not so many days ago, nearly 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
To sleep and sleep like this, to dream, and remember some dreams, and forget others but know they were there. This kind of sleep is simultaneously shockingly indulgent and long overdue. If a full night’s sleep ocurs again the next night, and the next, as it has a few times in my three years of parenthood, I become overconfident, like the desert traveler with a full canine and good directions to the next watering hole. I forget that sandstorms are frequent and bearings are easily lost. I forget that toddlers are easily disrupted by new milestones, busy days, or minor colds, among other things. I forget that big sisters are also disrupted, by scary dreams or exciting tomorrows, among other things. I forget these things, and am taken completely off guard when I am once again lurching parched and disoriented around my world, wondering if that touch of shimmery blue on the horizon is the next watering hole, or simply another mirage of two hour interval sleep.