Irreverent Mom

Plague Parenting, Part III – Insomnia and Kitty Games


“Stop getting out of bed,” I tell Violet every night around 9 p.m. “You need to go to sleep so you’ll feel good and have power for your day tomorrow.”

I tell her to recharge her battery, to have sweet dreams, to sleep tight because that’s what’s best. Then I go upstairs and watch nearly a full season of “The Crown” in one sitting while gorging on Ghirardelli’s seasonal peppermint chocolate squares.

Last night I startled awake on the couch around 1 a.m. to find my knitting needles resting precariously close to my face. You might think that would be a good time to go to bed, but no — time for second dinner! After polishing off the leftovers and shoveling a few handfuls of orange Cheez-It crackers into my face at the kitchen counter, I finally crawled into bed around 2, where I put one earbud in and opened Netflix on my phone. “Just one more episode,” I told myself, knowing one would turn into two.

These days there’s not much to go out and do, hardly anyone to see, and nowhere to rush, so who cares if I’m a little extra tired in the minutes before I chug my morning coffee?

Most days, Violet creeps into my room meowing like a cat around 9 a.m. to wake me up for “Kitty Games,” a languid, unhurried morning routine that involves purring for about an hour while pretending to eat fresh fish in bed. After Kitty Games, Violet and I don’t go anywhere. We log on to Zoom. We color pictures. We read books. We go out into the yard. I take all day to finish a single load of laundry. I don’t need to be my most disciplined self for this lifestyle.

I used to keep to-do lists but I don’t worry much if nothing ever really gets done now, which is for the best in a world shared with a 5-year-old where no task goes uninterrupted.

Between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., I hear “Mom!” approximately every two minutes:

“Mom! Where’s Vanilla?” Violet yells every time she misplaces her favorite stuffed cat.

“Mom! I’m hungry!” (10 minutes after lunch.)

“Mom! I’m out of socks!” (They’re all Barbie doll sleeping bags right now.)

“Mom! When are we getting a dog and why can’t it be a chihuahua?”

“Mom! Why don’t I have a sister?”

“Mom! My toe hurts!”

“Mom! Is it Christmas yet?”

“Mom! Is it Christmas soon?”

“Mom! Why isn’t Christmas today?”

“Mom! Why did Bear Doggie die?”

“Mom! Where did Bear Doggie go?

“Mom! When coronavirus dies, will it go where Bear Doggie went?”

“Mom! I really want a dog that’s a tiny, cute chihuahua.”

“Mom! I lost Vanilla again and I’m thirsty!”

When Violet’s dad warns me about blue light coming off my phone at night or cites some study illustrating the importance of a good night’s sleep, I secretly feel sorry for him. He’s missing out, for which I am grateful, because when I stay up late I feel like a kid at the best slumber party ever, precisely because I am completely, gloriously alone.

One o’clock in the morning is predictably, magically quiet. I hear creaking sounds and convince myself there are ghosts in the den, owls on the roof, a bear in the yard. Unlike my adorable little daytime companion, none of them ask me for a thing.

Fighting my inner night owl seems pointless when there’s nowhere to get up and go. I knit four purple stuffed kittens while watching “The Crown” and tell myself that finishing the cats justifies the excessive late-night TV. Then I start a fifth cat because I can’t stop watching the new season with Princess Diana.

Despite the darkening circles under my eyes, I feel the most rested I’ve ever been. One day when the world lures me out of bed early again, I’ll probably feel nostalgic for this period of waking hibernation, these eerily quiet months emptied of daily activities and obligations, filled with binge watching and reading things there was never enough time for before.

Violet likes books about “big girls” who go to elementary school, like Ramona Quimby, young Amelia Bedelia and Junie B. Jones.

“When do I get to go to kindergarten?” Violet asks, her green eyes pleading, fighting back tears. “I miss my preschool, Mom.”

“Next year,” I say, hoping it’s true, hoping she’s not traumatized by never going back to preschool, which feels like it got cut off forever ago.

At this point it’s almost hard to believe our unhurried, stuck-at-home routine will ever come to an end, for better and for worse. But one day, I know I’ll look back and reminisce about these slow mornings when Violet woke me with a “meow” and we had all the time in the world to lie around, catching fish together with our paws.

Krisa Bruemmer lives in Vaughn.