What Happens When I Stay Up Late

What Happens When I Stay Up Late December 6, 2018

Ah well, child, if you stay up till midnight and then see me bashing around trying to make the chocolate coins come out even, that’s on you.

Another St. Nicholas day in the books. Staying up late like that is going to kill me. This article supports this truth. I should only be “working” three days a week. I’ve read it twice and I’m confused. What exactly counts as “work?” I’ve always wanted to know but am not clever enough to untangle it.

I can remember, back in the bad old days, eagerly staying up till 9pm in order to creep around an entirely quiet house to dole out the chocolate and oranges. 9 was So Late because ordinarily I put the children to bed at 6, puttered around till 8 and then climbed under the covers and so to sleep myself. I had to so that I could wake up at midnight and then again at 2am to nurse a baby, or just lie there and curse the darkness.

Now I still go to bed at 8 but no children appear to ever follow in my way. I ascend the heights to my attic abode, tuck myself in with my hot water bottle and a stack of books, and one by one, as the hours wind away, the children come up to say good night. One might think this signals the end of their exertions but one would be wrong. They continue to bash around below and shout at each other, covering the furniture against the cats, turning off lights, locking doors, taking showers, arguing about stuff beyond my ability to fathom.

If you had said to me twenty years ago that when I was 40 something I would be really tired and fighting off sleep at 8:30 every night, and that I would be the kind of mother who didn’t even care any more, just go to bed if you want, how on earth should I know how you should spend your time, I would have been surprised and not believed you. Of course, 20 years ago I would have scoffed if you’d told me I’d have six children, some of them teenagers. It’s better not to think ahead, I think, or try to imagine the future.

I know because I tried to do it yesterday. I attempted to count up, again, how old I’ll be when the youngest starts high school, and then when she finally graduates—assuming that she does, and you know what they say about assuming anything. It turned out to be too hard to match years with ages, so then I just tried to imagine what it would be like if they all left home. I would be sad at first, of course. And then I would probably be stressed when they all came home for Christmas. Where on earth would I put them all? Because one of their rooms is going to be turned into a sitting room, and another one into a book room, and another room into a storage room, and I’m going to light all the snowsuits on fire…

So much for nostalgia. Incidentally, for all those people who told me, when the children were very young, to “treasure these moments” and “it goes by so fast” and all that kind of nonsense, I would just like to say that, I’ve thought about it, and you know what, I Don’t Miss Those Days At All. The only thing I miss is the fat mouth of the youngest when she was a baby, but I can just look through all my pictures on facebook, as long as Mr. Zuckerberg lets me still have access to them. And, gazing at her chocolate covered person, loss swiftly gives way to the relief of not having her appended to my very person 23 hours a day. It’s better that they grow up and sort themselves out one way or another.

It’s what St. Nicholas would have wanted.

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