I don’t sleep well when my husband is away. Unfortunately, his prior job came with a lot of travel. His first year was the worst: he was gone all week, every week, for about nine months. I think the only way I survived that year was due to our having a dog. But I was sleepless anyway, because we had a baby, so I was already pretty much a zombie.
These days, you’d think I’d be able to sleep since the kids now (usually) sleep through the night, but no luck. When he’s gone, I hear everything. And I worry about everything. This winter was particularly cold and I was convinced nearly every night that our pipes would freeze and burst and flood our basement.
I did what I could to prevent this: I didn’t turn my heat down as low as I would have liked to, which of course kept me awake in itself because I was then too hot to sleep. I opened the doors beneath both bathroom sinks to make sure warm air got to those pipes. And I ran the faucet in the upstairs bath almost every night.
Don’t ask me about our water bills. I’m guilty enough that I wasted so much. The fact that we would have wasted much more if the pipes burst was little consolation.
Another worry, year round but more so in winter: fire. I’m terrified the house will catch on fire. Some nights I sleep fully clothed, ready to jump from the bed and grab the kids at a moment’s notice.
Yes, each night the accumulated sleeplessness worsens the paranoia. And I don’t know why I am less worried about fire when my husband is home. Now that I think about it, we’re probably in more danger those nights, because I sleep more deeply.
Well, crap, there’s something else to worry about.
Regardless, somehow I survived the winter. Now, in the warmer weather, my concern turns to foot traffic. We live in the city, and when he is gone I’m certain someone is going to break into our house.
My thought process most nights:
Hear a sound. Most likely from the parking lot at the apartment across our backyard, but at the time, I’m certain it’s someone loudly closing a door downstairs.
Sit straight up in bed, listening. Glance at the gun safe, wonder if I can find the bullets and load the gun, grab both kids and barricade ourselves in my bedroom in time.
Decide no one is in the house, lie back down, but lie awake for another half hour, just in case. Finally fall asleep.
Repeat about every 30 minutes throughout the night. Until about 5:30, when I finally fall asleep for my heaviest sleep of the night.
And the kids wake up at 6.
Now we have a kitten. He’s not all that helpful in the home protection category. But at least he perks up every time he hears a sound. Or every time he pretends to hear a sound. Come to think of it, he’s probably going to make things worse. But when I am awake, he strokes my arm lovingly with his paw and tries to make it all OK.
Before running through the house all batshit insane.