Sunday, February 24, 2008

O Petulance -- a.k.a. the night shift

O petulance
i really must cast thee out.
I'll replace you with cartwheels;
careening and spinning about.

No more will i slather
no more will i spit
while i wish for my bed
and the babe who is in it.

O petulance --
you sad and sorry beast,
you're gone with the dawn;
i won't miss you in the least.

O petulance, your name is The Night Shift, and i just don't wanna be with you anymore.

No more do i wanna hear my baby say "mama, you were mad when you woke up this morning," ... a morning i don't really remember because i was thankfully, blissfully sleeping a full night for the first night in six... neglecting my child's requests, throwing Joe's O's into her hands because i just need five more minutes, no, five more DAYS of sleep to make up for what i'd lost that week.

When i willingly signed on to work the morning show a year and a half ago, i thought it would give me a way to cheat day care, and a way for my child to think that i was never away from her. But petulant mother, she knows. She knows when she wakes in the middle of the night, mumbling "mama" in her sleep and fumbling for me in the dark, and all she feels is a cold white sheet. (Yes, she still sleeps with me -- don't we all need a warm body to hold in the night?)

She knows when i cannot stand even myself anymore, lo, about five in the afternoon, when i have been up for 17 hours and only slept for four the night before and thus am short with her in her every request...

"Mama come here so i can show you what I did with my dollhouse."

"No baby, i can't come running every time you want to show me something silly." So she silently sulks, shuts her door, and when i come in later to apologize, she just shouts "give me some privacy!"

Now where did she get such anger, such moodiness, such petulance? No need to search for the answer -- just refer to the alternate title of this diatribe. For the child-reason alone i have fought and won the battle to work Normal Hours. As if there were such a thing in the broadcasting world -- where four months out of the year we cannot take time off, in the name of "ratings." For which, even if we "win", we get no financial incentive (another topic for another seething blog). But it's closer to normalcy. At least creeping that way, before i succumb to the terrible future of many journalists, who give up their dreams of sleuthing to work in PR -- just for more of the normalcy.

A testament to my lack of care, my total check-out because of this shift:
My kid got a portable DVD player from her grandparents for Christmas, and i didn't even protest. I took it as a small gift from heaven, her being able to watch a movie in my bed at six p.m., while i took early leave of the day. Now i am all up for limiting kids' tv watching and reading a pile of books instead, so this little deviation has bothered me, and will be no more. Now it's just a question of how to convince the little one that the nightly DVD is not necessary...

Alas, there are adjustments ahead as she learns that mama is not the shortsighted, desperate individual who has lived in her home for the past 17 months. But maybe she got some sight of who i really am, when i started talking about the new shift, and then proceeded to do cartwheels in the yard.

When i landed in the grass, o petulance, your ass got the boot.

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