I’ve just been up with my oldest cause he needed his inhaler, a drink, the toilet, piriton and a story. You know, the usual requests at 4.12am.
Now he’s back to sleep and I’m wide awake. I’m thinking about all the times in the past that I’ve been up at 4.12am.
When I was a kid it was probably through sickness or if I had a bad dream. I used to be terrified of death and think about it too much. I remember being so worried about someone I know dying. Someone like my gran. That has since happened and I was right. It is horrible and so sad. I’m just glad I got my whole childhood without going through that pain.
As a teenager being awake at 4.12am would be at parties. House parties where trusting parents would leave their responsible teenager in the house on their own. Where a crowd of other 17 year olds would descend and create havoc. I often wonder if those parents knew and just figured it’s safer than being out on the streets. Then again, as a parent now, I can’t see them agreeing to what we got up to. They probably believed that a couple of friends came round for a gaming night. One thing I would say about that crowd of kids. We never left a mess. I don’t know any of them anymore but they were a good bunch of kids. Some folk might say they were irresponsible to have parties, but to all pitch-in the next morning and make sure no one got in trouble makes me quite proud of that wee group of friends. I’m just so pleased my parents lived out of town and I didn’t ever host one. I was never that good a liar, especially to my parents.
At uni 4.12am meant writing. I studied playwriting and being a true procrastinator my best and most inspirational time was at night–no distractions. I would start writing around 9pm and keep going until a draft was done. 7 or 8 hours of uninterrupted creativity. Absolute bliss. I’ve never been able to figure out a new way of writing since I had kids. There’s no way I can do that now but short bursts of creative time just don’t do it for me. It takes me a while to warm up and get going and I lose my train of thought if I have to stop-start. Maybe I could figure out a day a week where I just stay up late and do it. Sacrifice some sleep to get things done. Maybe.
As a fully grown married adult. 4.12am was probably mostly sleeping. There would have been the occasional box-set marathons though. We got really into 24 when we first lived together. We got Love-Film deliveries. A package of DVDs to the door that you sent back two days later. Ahh the good old days when rental was dying a death.
With a newborn 4.12am became my regular friend. My oldest didn’t sleep through till 9months, my youngest was 11 months. I breastfed them both so it was me, everytime. Lovely husband did his part. Especially when they got bigger and we knew it wasn’t milk they wanted. He was always better at settling them. I would just whip the boob out at the first sign of trouble so never really learnt how to put them down without it. I remember watching out the window of my bedroom and seeing an older guy taking his old dog out for a walk. I think it would’ve been around 4 in the morning. I saw him a few times. Maybe he worked shifts or maybe he couldn’t sleep. I wonder if he still goes out at that time, over 4 years later.
Now the boys are older 4.12am is toilet break. Unless I’m up with oldest son for the reasons listed above. I usually can’t go a full night without needing to pee now. I’m glad if it’s earlier cause I can go back to bed and know I still have hours before it’s time to get up. It’s when my alarm is about to go off that I get disappointed with my body! This body has done incredible things over the years but not being able to tell that it’s nearly morning is a major flaw. Don’t wake me up when I only have half an hours sleep left! That’s just torture.
More recently 4.12am has been something I dread again, like when I was young and thinking tough thoughts. Now it’s a fear of the pain when I wake up in the night. My first instinct these days is to search for the pain. That’s not a great way to greet 4.12am. I wish I didn’t have to.
So I guess I’ve seen my fair share of 4.12am in my 34 years. Some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. I’m sure there will be many more cause the middle of the night isn’t that bad a place to visit every now and again. If the headaches stop I might even enjoy a wee bit peace in the madness that is my life!