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We got a kitten a few weeks ago and we are smitten. We already have two calicos but they’re not real cats. I’ll never forget the shelter worker telling us when we were paying the adoption fee, “Wow, you’re brave getting two female calicos.” She quickly backtracked when she saw the look on our faces but she was right. They’ve never been particularly playful or affectionate. They don’t do any endearing cat things like sitting on your laptop or smothering you in your sleep.

Nacho is a male orange tabby, the best type of cat God ever created. He was 7 ½ weeks old when we got him and he takes turns nuzzling on us, a connoisseur of our imaginary nipples. If you look at the camera rolls on our numerous devices you will find hundreds of photos of Nacho sleeping. Like all kittens (except apparently calicos) he is rambunctious and energetic, flinging himself from a dining chair to the couch with ease. He’s not concerned at all when he gets kicked across the floor or locked in a closet. He’s cute when he’s awake but he’s a precious angel when he’s asleep. I don’t know why watching him sleep feels like love. Is he oozing it or am I?

He’s like the third child that I kind of always wanted. Lately, I’ve been vividly remembering what it was like to have a baby fall asleep on my chest and to not be able to move until they woke up. Everything revolved around sleep in those days. Naps were sacrosanct. The day my 4 year old son started preschool, my 3 year old daughter stopped taking naps. She finally got me all to herself. I cried a little inside, not because I didn’t want alone time with her but because you love them just a little bit more at that age after a good nap.

When my sister was dying 6 years ago, she was frequently in and out of the hospital. When I visited her she would chase me away, telling me to go home to my kids. The best visits were when I would get there and she was asleep. I would sit by her bed and hold her hand and there was nothing she could do to stop me. She didn’t exactly look peaceful but she wasn’t itching for a fight. It was easier to love her that way.

I have a thing for sleep. Probably because I’ve gotten so little of it in my life. I suffered from chronic night terrors most of my life. When I was little I would scream in the night, dreaming about airplanes crashing through the ceiling. Sleepovers were awkward in my teens. When a night terror would strike, I ran through whatever was in my way, be it a dresser or a wall. 

For the first 15 years Matthew and I were together, I was not easier to love in my sleep. He never got used to me running into furniture or throwing things at the ceiling. One time, I tried to hand him a gun so that he could shoot an imaginary intruder. Several times I found myself in the backyard and I even called 911 while asleep. Each and every time, Matthew woke up and comforted me. We lost countless hours of sleep together.

When I was pregnant with my first child in 2008, the night terrors disappeared. I went from having them almost every night to having zero. It was like I was miraculously healed. This was years before I actively started to heal from the trauma of my childhood.  I still have no logical explanation for it. 

Six years ago, Matthew and I upgraded from a queen to a king size bed. I love the feeling of being able to stretch out, all 5’ 3” of me. When the kids were smaller they could both sleep with us but now my son is 12 and has a mustache and my daughter was banned for kicking off the covers. Matthew sleeps with 32 pillows and I have night sweats from menopause. And now, none of us can even twitch a muscle under the covers without Nacho attacking. Those calicos aren’t looking so bad after all.

8 responses to “Sleep”

  1. I’m up very early this morning. It’s nice and peaceful. Reading through my e-mails I came across your short story. It gave me quite a few chuckles. Thank you. I’ve needed a good giggle and I love your honesty.
    Ty MarieTaylor


  2. I wish I could show you pics of my little Pumpkin cat, an orange tabby that had me laughing every minute when he was a kitten and who, by one year old, was aloof and dismissive of me and still is at 2 1/2. Thank god for that first year, because now he’s like your calico girls and I tkle it very personally all while loving him to death. Good luck!


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