It’s almost midnight and my three kids are asleep. The dog is sprawled out on the bed snoozing, her tail randomly wagging now and again as she dreams. I’m propped up in bed, my iPad in my lap while my husband slumbers peacefully next to me. I’m about to click the Play button so I can watch one more episode of The Crown.
My eyelids are so heavy I practically need a pair of toothpicks to prop them open. I’m exhausted, no question. The physical and emotional toll of schlepping, working, parenting and planning has me practically comatose every night around 9. If I let myself slide all the way horizontal, I’d be out before you could say, “Her royal highness.” So why don’t I just give in, close my weary eyes and drift off to dream land?
Because most nights my craving for Alone Time is even more powerful than my desperate need for a full night’s sleep.
The delicious stillness of a quiet house is my personal version of Nirvana. No one is asking me for anything. No one is crying, yelling or singing at the top of their lungs. No one is touching my butt and asking why it’s so saggy or playing with my unwashed hair or yanking on my arm. This is when I can regroup, ignore the crap of the day and lose myself in a book or show or hot shower. I love being the only one awake in my house late at night – and I’m not the only one.
My mom friends and I joke about texting each other a 1 a.m. because we are all awake. Sometimes it’s the mental load that keeps our brains whirring, but more often than not, we choose to stay up. We power through our days, working, volunteering, driving all over God’s green earth, soothing, cheering on and guiding our kids and partners and friends, feeding all the people, monitoring the brushing and washing and peeing and, finally, tucking our beloveds into bed.
By the end of it all, we are touched out, talked out and ready to zone out by ourselves. Sleep, no matter how tempting, rarely beats out spending time with me, myself and I.
So what do we moms do when we’re alone in the dark? Here are the juicy deets on what my mom friends and I are up to late at night:
1. Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram.
2. Sighing over Pinterest recipes we have no intention of ever cooking.
3. Perusing home décor sites in search of the perfect rug.
4. Shopping for luxury towels on sale, face serum and buttery soft yoga pants, putting it all in the cart but not actually buying anything.
5. Buying everything on Amazon Prime.
6. Ordering groceries on Instacart because who has time for the grocery IRL?
7. Ordering everything from Costco we couldn’t get on Instacart.
8. Catching up on our favorite YouTube family vlogs.
9. Watching pimple-popping videos.
10. Watching two movies in a row.
11. Binge-watching Netflix.
12. Folding laundry while binge-watching Netflix.
13. Listening to podcasts.
14. Taking a long, hot uninterrupted shower.
15. Doing a peel or face mask without anyone staring at us like we’re swamp monsters.
16. Loving the fact that NO ONE IS TOUCHING US.
17. Reading a favorite book or blog.
18. Reading one of the bajillion posts we’ve saved on Facebook.
19. Reading that article about clean eating.
20. Imagining what it would be like to go vegan.
21. Deciding to never go vegan.
22. Eating all the non-vegan Girl Scout cookies.
23. Eating ice cream, our secret stash of chocolate and/or potato chips and NOT sharing.
24. Making a list of fantasy vacation destinations.
25. Making a list of to-dos for the next day.
26. Going through the 14,000 photos on our phones and crying over how big our babies are.
27. Thinking about sex being fun, but feeling relieved we don’t have to do it because our husbands are sleeping.
30. Doing a crossword puzzle.
31. Texting with friends who are also up late eating ice cream and binge-watching This Is Us.
As you can see, our idea of bliss is a late night pajama party for one. Screw the research that says we should dutifully shoot for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night if we want to be our best selves. I don’t care about being my best self; I just want to be by myself. Yeah, I know I’ll be exhausted in the morning and will no doubt complain about it but I also know it’s nothing a strong mug of coffee or a super-sized Diet Coke can’t fix.
One day, when the kids are grown and out of the house, I’m sure I’ll figure out how to go to sleep at a decent hour. Until then, I’ll be up past midnight, a charcoal mask on my face, watching just one more episode of The Crown.