It Was a Tough Habit to Kick
by Theresa Reichman
I used to be a heavy sleeper. Until I had kids. Maternal instinct doesn’t have an “off” switch, so even in the dead of night, if one of my babies hiccupped, I’d be hovered over her crib in an instant. During the newborn stage, it was a super power that I cherished. However, after awhile it became tiresome to be wide awake every time the baby stirred in her crib. And so, I became an addict. My drug of choice?
It started organically in the summertime. With the air conditioner humming, I slept through the child who rolled over in her sleep, but my eyelids snapped open the moment I heard her utter a cry. And so, as the feverish summer temperatures dipped into the bearable, I let the fan linger. The naked sheets were covered with comforters, and still the machine droned on. Until my husband opened the electric bill.
“This has got to stop.” He pointed to the numbers.
Yikes. I felt Mother Nature’s finger wagging at me and decided it was time to suck it up and break my little addiction.
And I tried. I really, really tried. I would toss and turn while my husband peacefully slumbered beside me, and my children slept soundly. But sleep wouldn’t visit me. An hour ticked by. Then two. Then three. Then I’d reach over and “click.” Hummmmm. Sleep.
After waking up the disapproving look from my husband and the ozone layer on a number of occasions, one day my husband walked in the door from work with a little box in his hand. The clear box was filled with spongy pink earplugs.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“The solution,” he said.
And it was. Those cushiony little buds worked wonders. I had some of the best sleep I’d ever had in my whole life, and they passed the fussing baby test. I could hear my baby’s whiny cry even with my cherished pink jewels in place (although by this point, 3 a.m. parties in the crib were nil).
I had been sporting my nightly ear bling for a year and a half when I went to California last week. I had toted my laptop, camera, cell phone (and all of their chargers), a week’s worth of clothing, reading material, my razor, toothbrush and other such toiletries. But the one thing I forgot? Yep. You got it. The invaluable earplugs.
To say that I was a bit distressed is a major understatement. Like any addict, I tried to hide just how big of a deal this really was. It started with a “Crap, I forgot my earplugs.” And when no one really batted an eye, I reinforced, “I can’t believe I forgot those!” Desperately hoping someone else would share my same obsession and assure me, “Earplugs?! Why of course! We have earplugs out the wazoo here!”
Throughout the course of the first day, anytime anyone mentioned going anywhere in town I would casually inquire, “Do you think they sell earplugs?” To which they would reply…
“I don’t think pizza places sell those….”
“I don’t think the market sells those…”
“I don’t think the liquor store sells those…”
So that night, I lay in bed as the patio doors were pelted with an obscene amount of rain. The wind whistled and rushed by. Dude, a freaking bush blew over in the night. No joke. The cat mewed, the clocks ticked and I was certain I wouldn’t sleep a wink the entire week.
But then I woke up. And I woke up rested. Apparently when jet-lag and noise duke it out in a sleep battle, jet-lag takes the prize.
Every night I would wait for the sleeplessness to set in, and not once did sleep let me down. And so here I am. My name is Theresa, and I have gone 10 nights without earplugs.
I’m not out of the woods yet. I still keep a pair on my bedside table. Sort of like when I was a kid and I kept a cup of water there. You know — in case the Wicked Witch of the West came and I needed to douse her. I’m locked and loaded, and ready for sleeplessness to return. But I never did really need that dousing water, anyway.