Commentary by Stephanie Andre

As I write this, it’s 12:30 AM. I should be sleeping, but instead, I’m working.

Tonight it’s work, but tomorrow it might just be catching up on mindless television, such as “The Bachelorette.” Regardless of what “it” is, it’s late and the house is finally quiet. And that’s the point.

While my kids aren’t so young anymore that I’m changing diapers and chasing them around the house, my mom life is just as demanding as it’s ever been. Between school lunches, practices and performances, this mom is just plain pooped.

When most moms say we get no time to ourselves, we mean it. Driving to pick up the kids is not “alone time.”

So, when my husband says he’s heading to bed and I don’t go, it’s because I need time. Time to do everything or nothing. It’s not because I’m mad or angry; I’m just in need of something—just me.
I know that my body needs the rest, but I can’t help but want that mental reset more. I know that if I’m lucky, I’ll sleep for about four to five hours; it’ll probably be four.

Here are some other things I can guarantee:

» Tomorrow I will be exhausted—again (rinse and repeat).
» There’s a pretty good chance that I’ll drink three or four cups of coffee—again.
» I’ll have no energy by 2 PM as I push my way through the workday—again.
» I will swear that “I’m not doing this tonight” until I do this—again.

It’s amazing how the mind frame changes from when the alarm goes off in the morning darkness to when the appeal of night takes over.

So why do we do it? Why are some moms (such as myself) like this?

Because exhaustion comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not just sleep that we need. Our fatigue is physical, mental, and emotional. And sleep only solves one of those problems.

We need to emotionally recharge, so we stay up late and take a quiet moment of consciousness for ourselves. We have to mentally unwind. So we grab those peaceful waking moments whenever we can.

This time alone, when there’s no carpool, no kids begging for another snack or finishing homework and no adults expecting my attention isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Because when the world quiets, I’m just me. I finally take off my invisible hats and find myself, even for just a little bit.

Yes, I want to binge-watch Christmas movies on Hallmark and Netflix.

Sometimes I just need to let my brain calm down; I have a million things floating around my head at any given point and  I don’t need anyone to tell me how to handle them. If I want to zone out and stare off into space, I will.

I want to read a book. A real book. Not just start one and never find out how it ends.

I want to paint my toes without having to prematurely move because someone “needs” something—as if they’re not old enough to handle it themselves these days (see: husband as well).

I want to take a bath (or at least know that I could if I wanted to). I want to start a new craft project (yes, I’m crafty).

Or maybe I want to write because it’s the way I self-medicate. I want a bit of time to feel like it is just about me because every other hour of every other day is about everyone else.

I think the biggest misconception my husband (and I suspect others as well) has is this is some reflection on him; that I “choose” to go to sleep after him intentionally. What he fails to understand is that it’s not about him. It’s for me. Just for me.

My decision to sacrifice sleep is selfish, and I’m OK with that. I can do with it whatever I want and no one can stop me. No one else gets this time.

It’s not easy for most of us to grab time in the daylight. Sometimes you just get to a point where you’re so desperate for some peace that you’ll take whatever you can get. For me, it’s the quiet of night when my late-night-TV friends—Stephen and the Jimmys—settle in and my mind finally settles down.