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The muse of exhaustion


Six months on, my moon-faced darling is an active little dumpling trying to grab everything – my hair, my phone, hot drinks, whatever toy her brother is holding. She has been known to send a half-written text message with one happy kick of her foot. And then there was the time my strawberry smoothie painted us both red from head to toe.

She looks around intently and is not interested in feeding when there’s even a little bit of excitement. She starts ‘reverse cycling’ - wanting to feed every couple of hours at night, when all is calm and quiet, instead of during the daytime.

My son still wakes every other night and comes into our room. I cannonball out of bed as soon as my sleeping brain is alerted to him. I herd him out of the room before he says something and wakes the baby, but often he declares loudly “I want to sleep in your bed” and then I’ve got two kids awake.

After a particularly bad night, the world starts to go a bit fuzzy. What time is it? What day is it? How long have we been asleep since the last feed? My hands are no longer connected to my body, my mouth struggles to reach my brain – I drop things and start singing Merry Christmas instead of Happy Birthday.

The online info-explosion for parents seems split into two camps – the sleep training camp and the attachment-is-better camp. Both the thought of sleep training and the thought of continuing to sleep badly unnerve me. My partner googles reverse cycling and we decide if I feed her more during the day in calm quiet places without my son trying to get in on the action with toys and dances and singing, then she might return to sleeping well at night (and pigs might fly but it’s worth a try!).

In the meantime, in those night-time hours between wake and sleep, stories and poetry come floating to me and if I have a free hand, I type them into the notepad on my phone. In the light of day, I look at my ramblings with scepticism followed by interest – what a muse exhaustion is for the creative mind. Now I have half a dozen more poems on the theme of exhaustion. Here’s one to take a look it, if you’re not too tired. If you’re having trouble getting any sleep, I hope it helps to know you’re not the only one in a sleep-deprived fuzz.


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