Dear Catie, Catastrophic Thinking.

I am posting this because it is one of those things that I feel is highly relatable to others in our positions as parents, moms, or anyone who gets weighed down by how big the world can feel when we let our minds run away without us. This story was written for my creative writing class by yours truly.

Enjoy.

With the best of intentions, I crawl in to bed at precisely 8:46 in the evening. This is after I have brushed my teeth, gone to the bathroom, taken a shower, cleansed my face from the day, and taken a glass of water with me to the bedroom. I am quite certain that if I get in to bed at 8:46 in the evening, I will have estimated the correct amount of time to fall asleep by 9:00PM.

I want to fall asleep by 9:00PM because I have set out an endeavor to awake by my alarm clock at 7:00AM. This grants me an allowance of ten hours in which I may rest which is honestly more than enough. In all likelihood I will wake up earlier than that if I am truly to fall asleep by 9:00PM.

However, as insomnia would have it, by 9:13PM my heart is racing as the ideas gallop across my brain and in to words. I hear my voice reading a bedtime story to me. I’m intrigued and delighted so much that I surrender any attempts to fall asleep and spring from the bed. There will be no sleep until this idea is placed on a memo and tucked away for when I have more time.

I don’t get back into bed until 10:57PM. By now, I know that if I can force myself into slumber, I will not even get eight hours of sleep, which is commonly known as the correct amount of sleep required for good health. If I don’t have good health, then I am not going to be very good at anything I have to do tomorrow. So, I really need to fall asleep. Like, now.

I sigh and open one eye to sneak the time reading on my alarm clock. Somehow, my alarm clock has malfunctioned. It now reads 11:21PM. How can this be? Did I doze off into a nap? I don’t feel like I did, but then again, it could have been one of those cat naps where time jolts forward and you feel energized and ready for the day. The only problem is that I don’t want to feel ready for the day. I want to feel exhausted. Maybe I’ve just been thinking too long and time trickled with each rabbit hole I jump through. I look at the clock again and realize I’ve lost another twenty minutes.

At this rate, I am not going to get a healthy amount of sleep. This means I won’t want to wake up at 7:00AM. If I don’t get up at 7:00AM, then I am not going to want to work out. If I don’t work out, then I am not going to lose weight and build muscles and boost my metabolism and get more endorphins. If I don’t get all of that, I will fall into a rut of exhaustion and depression first thing when I wake up.

I check the clock again. I’ve lost an hour thinking about all the weight I need to lose and in all the places I wish I could thin out. My hips. My thighs. My stomach. My arms.

Now, I am beginning to ponder if it will be worth it to go to class in the morning at all. Perhaps, I should sacrifice class and regrettably my grade for what really matters in life: my job. My job is needed to make money. I need money to take care of my son, my husband, and my obsession with organic food which is ridiculously over priced. But wait, I don’t want to forget school or I’ll have wasted all this time working so hard to stick with it and get good grades. I’ll have wasted every morning I didn’t sleep in when I desperately wanted to, but I can’t fall asleep and it’s — I sneak another look at the clock — already 2:00AM.

I might as well call in to work. I can stay home and keep my son in my arms all day. We can have an impromptu Mother-Son date at the park. We have look like all of those ads about having a family where everyone is smiling and laughing at the funniest thing in the world.

Wait, how am I going to do that? My son is three years old. My son is testing his boundaries every fifteen minutes and driving me up the wall. If I don’t get any sleep, my son will have to face off with my grumpy attitude and then I’ll be the worst mother in the world because I can’t fall asleep to take care of my son.

I can’t fall asleep for my son. I can’t fall asleep for my job. I can’t fall asleep for my school work and classes. I can’t fall asleep for my happiness. I can’t fall asleep.

It’s 3:00AM and I start to feel very small against this mountain of regret for things not yet to pass. The future seems to miserable and the past only proves the pattern waiting for me. If I am destined to fail, why bother trying at all?

I’ve started to cry about not being able to get to sleep and how it’s going to ruin my life at 3:13AM. I give in to the miserable acceptance that I will never get my life together on a schedule that so many other people seem to run the pace of. I begin to curl into a ball beneath the covers when the door cracks open to my bedroom.

In comes my husband with a blanket bundle in his arms. My son peaks out from beneath the blankets with sleepy eyes and mumbles, “Hi Mama.” My thoughts stop. My heart races in their place.

“Someone couldn’t get to sleep,” My husband explains of our son. I thought he had spoken of me. He brings the bundle to my side of the bed and I wrap my arms around his shoulders. He is warm and comforting. My husband slips into bed on the other side, wrapping his arms around me.

In a quick moment, I hear my son begin to snore. His eyes are closed tight. I smile and new thoughts swim in a calm pool of my mind. I am the key to my son getting any sleep tonight. I am the comfort my husband comes home from work to. My arms are the strongest thing in existence because they hold my whole world in their hands.

If I don’t wake tomorrow at 7:00AM, then I will sleep with my son beside me. My husband will wake up an hour or so later, and I will awaken because the bed springs back up without his weight. I will have enough time to shower and drive to class. I will feel so good about getting out of class that I will smile at work today. My smile could be the comfort someone else needs. It most definitely will be the comfort my son reaches for when I return home for the day, and when I get in to bed tomorrow night at 8:46PM, the knowledge that I can reflect the world that I hold in my arms tonight will prepare me for a brighter morning.

I don’t know what time it was when I finally fell asleep, but I do know in whose arms I was in and whose arms were in mine. This is no catastrophe.