The Insomniac Child

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Ever since my little Calder was an infant it has been a real struggle to get him to bed at night.  The twins have always shared a room, but when we first put them in separate beds Calder began his nightly ritual of screaming himself hoarse.  Luckily, at the time our closest neighbors were about a half a mile away so no one reported us.

Despite the lack of sleep, I do have fond memories of cuddling with my little boy as he stared at me, refusing to close his eyes.  I remember one night when he was about 18 months old that I sat in the rocker with him sprawled across my lap, gazing wide-eyed into my face, my arms falling asleep, and thought he’s so big, I’m not going to be able to do this for much longer. 

Eventually his terrified howls turned into hysterical laughter.  After an hour-long bedtime routine, the lights are turned off and we slowly exit the room.  Seconds later, the laughter starts.  I peek in his room and whisper “Quiet, Calder,” and the giggles instantly halt.  Before I’ve taken 2 steps out of the door frame, it starts right back up.

After a few minutes the room is quiet.  But then we hear a soft creak in the door and look to see two little eyes peeping through the crack.  As I start towards his room, he turns to run and I hear a fast pitter-patter as he jumps back into bed.  When I enter the room, I approach the bed and kneel beside it.  I whisper, “Calder, everyone is sleeping.  Can you go to sleep too?”  “Yes,” he says.  “You promise?”  “Promise,” he replies.  “Okay…I love you.  Goodnight”.

You can guess how this goes on for the next hour or so.  Promises mean nothing to a three-year-old.  Sometimes it results in a firm pat on the bottom and a few tears shed.  Many nights the same thing happens in the middle of the night.  Aaron and I take turns going to his room and trying to coax him into falling asleep.  Once he (and we) have exhausted all our tricks, there’s nothing left to do but just wait it out.

Several days ago, this happened.  At about 3 AM, I laid in bed looking up at the ceiling with my eyes wide opened, thinking about what I needed to do the next day and if any of it required a well-rested body and mind.

Suddenly I remembered that the previous evening, as we tried “the usual” to get Calder to bed, Jade burst into a song that went something like “Go to sleep, go to sleep, you need to get your re-e-est…”, to the tune of — what else? — Let it Go.  Aaron and I laughed and tried to continue with the song.

And that night, at 3 AM, I did continue the song.  And this is what transpired:

The light still shines through my window tonight.
Jammies on and teeth are brushed,
lullabies of twinkling stars, ABC’s and babies hushed.
The sun is setting but I’m still awake inside.
Couldn’t close my eyes even if I tried.

I need a drink, my diaper’s wet,
there’s a monster underneath my bed.
One more light on so I can see, Mom, please.

Stay awake, stay awake, don’t wanna sleep anymore.
Stay awake, stay awake, don’t know what this beds for.
Parents still watching TV.
Maybe Oso’s on…
I don’t think sleeping is for me.

Funny how the darkness makes everything more fun,
but despite my curiosity I can’t play with anyone.

Brother, wake up and play with me.
It’s more fun than your bed, you’ll see.
We’ll play dress up with our dirty laundry.

Stay awake, stay awake, I’m having so much fun.
Stay awake, stay awake, can’t be the only one.
Mom thinks its necessary,
but I’m not tired.

My bed is soaring through the air to outer space.
I’m strapped into my bright blue car and I’m ready to race.
My yellow submarine’s submerged beneath the sea.
Fire truck’s on it’s way with help to those in need.

Stay awake, stay awake, I’ll miss something if I blink.
Stay awake, stay awake, I’ll never sleep a wink.
There’s so much to do and see!
When will the sun rise?
I don’t think sleeping is for me…

I would like to take credit, but if it weren’t for my clever daughter and my insomniac son, none of this would have taken place.  Oh, how I love them!

In the days that followed, I got it in my head that this was going to be something big.  So I pondered and worked and sang and edited and three short days later…

 

 

 

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Making unorganized matter…organized. And making it matter.

Several months ago I wrote the following in a post entitled Leave No Path Untaken:

“I have an innate need to be part of things.  And not only PART of the world, but CREATING it and IMPROVING it.  Somehow my ego thinks this is possible and actually necessary or the world just simply won’t go round…It’s really difficult for me to feel just mediocre.  I tell myself I am destined for greatness and need to be the best at everything I do.  There’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself to be this person every. single. day.  Even when I try to GIVE MYSELF A BREAK by taking a walk (or starting a blog) I still feel like it needs to be the BEST walk of my life, or the absolute most inspiring blog post ever written!”

I think a lot about the need I have to somehow make every moment a memorable one.  Blog-worthy.  Epic even.  Last week I had one such experience which I would consider to be particularly remarkable.

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For the last few years I’ve attended a conference called Time Out For Women with my Mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  It is, exactly as it sounds, an opportunity for women to give themselves a break from daily tasks, whatever they may be, and focus on what makes them (us) special and important.  Each conference has a line up of inspirational speakers and musical guests (both men and women).  This year the line up included an incredible singer/songwriter/guitarist and also husband/father named Justin Cash.

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Well, since I don’t really ever “give myself break”, I used his performance time to imagine a scenario in which I got him a job working for my dad and devised a plan for how I would make this a reality.  If/when this worked out, Justin would have a great job, Dad gets a fabulous artist, I have something to say to this singer after the show besides “I really enjoyed your music!”  Everybody wins!  Of course I couldn’t just sit and enjoy the show.

Ironically, Justin also had a few things to say between songs and what came out was a paraphrase of the following quote by Elder Dieter Uchtdorf (Member of the LDS church general presidency):

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before…Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty… As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”

Hey, that’s what I’m doing!  Thank you for the validation, Elder Uchtdorf.

So after the show, I approached Justin and, in the most composed voice I could muster, pitched to him my idea for his future.  Not wanting to offend him by implying that he needed a better gig, I think I apologized and smiled a lot.  But I was thanked with a hug and a napkin to write on.  I gave him my dad’s email address, with “Tell him Whitney referred you” scribed underneath.  Again I apologized and explained why I had written my own name on the napkin, he laughed and thanked me, I wished him luck and we parted ways.

I just realized how many times I referred to him as “Justin” so apparently from my end the meeting went well and we are now on a first name basis.

I was very inspired by this conference and did actually listen and not try to respond to or intervene with the majority of the show.  It was a good feeling to be recognized for the things I’m already doing, and encouraging to see that change is possible for me.  Probably the next few posts will have to do with things I learned from this experience.  But for now I’m going to make one last helpful (and hopefully profitable) plug!

If you’re reading this and you live in the Charleston, South Carolina area, please make this a priority!  It’s an incredible show created by a couple of people who I love very much, who also happen to have been very talented Broadway performers.  Maybe if you mention me they’ll give you a discount!

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I believe in karma.  Maybe…just maybe…now a spot will open up for me in their cast 😉

 

 

 

Leave No Path Untaken

I do some of my deepest thinking when I’m walking or jogging outside by myself.  And lucky for you, we had some uncharacteristically warm weather yesterday that allowed me just such an opportunity.

I jogged/walked my usual path into the wooded part of my subdivision.  When I got to the end of the paved path, where I usually make my kids stop and turn around, I felt compelled to keep jogging.

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As I continued down the very narrow dirt path through the trees, some part of me felt like I was breaking a rule and wasn’t sure why I didn’t just do what I always did and stay on the pavement.  After some time I was surprised to see the trees part into another open area with more paved sidewalk.  At this point I had no idea where I was, but was pretty excited to be exploring by myself, so I kept jogging.  Soon after, I saw a male jogger up ahead and not wanting to put myself in a bad situation decided to turn around and return the way I’d come.

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Within just a couple minutes of backtracking I came to a fork in the path that gave me 3 directional choices.  How had I not realized that I’d passed through a fork in the road?  I chose the furthest left but very quickly came to the dry riverbed of the creek and knew that was not the way I came.  So I went back and now had 2 choices left.  I chose the middle one for no reason other than I had to choose one and they both looked exactly the same.

This whole process, from going off the path to choosing what ended up being the correct path home, took no longer than 5 minutes.  But it felt like forever and I felt really stupid for having chosen to go down a path that I really wasn’t sure about.

Once I was sure of where I was and heading home in the right direction, my deep thinking kicked in.  Why had I been so anxious to try something unfamiliar when no one would have known where I decided to go?   The walk home had me thinking that I was just bored with life and wanted to do something exciting, possibly even dangerous (it wasn’t dangerous, but to a house wife/mom it was extraordinarily brave of me to veer off my usual course).

But I realized that I wanted to push myself for the same reason I make things more dramatic than they need to be, the same reason I chose to major in art when I hadn’t even picked up a paint brush since I was 8, the reason I always feel such a strong need to be teaching dance, the reason I hear a song and think “I can recreate that!”, the reason I have 4 children and still have a desire for more…

I have an innate need to be part of things.  And not only PART of the world, but CREATING it and IMPROVING it.  Somehow my ego thinks this is possible and actually necessary or the world just simply won’t go round.  When I got to that dirt path and decided to just forge ahead it was like I was doing something no one else ever did (at least that’s how it felt even though I’m sure its not true).  I needed to prove something, that I was better today than the last time I went on this run.  But then I was also very humbled when I turned around and had no idea if I was lost.

Its really difficult for me to feel just mediocre.  I tell myself I am destined for greatness and need to be the best at everything I do.  There’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself to be this person every. single. day.  Even when I try to GIVE MYSELF  A BREAK by taking a walk (or starting a blog) I still feel like it needs to be the BEST walk of my life, or the absolute most inspiring blog post ever written!

So did I succeed?

Twenty-two years ago I had to choose a poem to memorize.  I’m pretty sure most 8 year olds chose Dr. Suess or Shel Silverstein, but I chose Robert Frost.  And to this day, it is my favorite poem.  My daughter even asks me tell her the “Two Roads” story at bedtime and then wants to talk about what it means.  I tell her that it means that we always have choices to make, and sometimes the right one is the one nobody else chooses.  For me I think it means that I always want to be the first and only one that can take both paths successfully, and that maybe if I choose one and leave some bread crumbs I can return and try out the other.  What does it mean to you?

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

and sorry I could not travel both

and be one traveler, long I stood

and looked down one as far as I could

to where it bent in the undergrowth.

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

though having perhaps the better claim,

because it was grassy and wanted wear;

though as for that the passing there

had worn them really about the same.

 

And both that morning equally lay

in leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

somewhere ages and ages hence.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

and that has made all the difference.

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