I didn’t sleep in my own bed last night.
Instead, I slept in Isabelle’s bed. Every now and then she requests a sleepover with me. While I’ll gladly stay with her during a thunderstorm or if she’s too sick to sleep by herself, I try not to do slumber parties too often for fear she’ll want them all of the time. Plus, she’s tough to sleep with. Even though she has a double bed, she likes to sidle right up to me when I lay beside her. While it can initially feel like snuggling with a teddy bear, it gets rough when her limbs begin pushing into my sides or when she drapes herself over my body. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well last night.
Isabelle began stirring at 5:00 a.m. She was awake by 5:30 a.m. She wanted to snuggle, but she also wanted to talk. Sometimes she starts chatting when she wakes up when all I want to do is go back to sleep. However, I had been up for over two hours, so I was able to comply with her conversational request. After exchanging “good mornings,” “I love yous,” and other pleasantries, the conversation turned to mitzvot, something that’s been a hot topic at religious school for the past couple of months.
The Hebrew word mitzvah means “commandment,” not good deed as many think it does. However, Isabelle and her peers are four and five so they’ve been learning about doing mitzvot as a way to help others.
So there we were, at 5:40 a.m., and Isabelle wanted to talk about what kinds of mitzvot she’s done lately. I asked her to tell me some — and she did. She helped a friend rebuild a tower at preschool that one of the boys knocked down. She told me about helping her peers clean up their blocks even though she didn’t play with them. Although they may not seem like big things, these are mitzvot in her world.
By 6:00 a.m., she got bored of talking and went downstairs to play, which meant I could try to go back to sleep. I was semi-successful with that endeavor. I tossed and turned for about an hour before falling back to sleep. (Bless my husband who went downstairs at 7:00 a.m. to hang out with Isabelle.) At 8:20, Marc opened the door to Isabelle’s room and asked me, “Do you want to get up or sleep more?” While this might seem cruel to some, he knew I had a lot of work (i.e., for the SOLSC, the grad course I’m teaching, and the review of the page proofs for my book) to do today.
“I’ll get up soon,” I said. “I probably only slept three hours last night.” Then I rolled over and attempted to go back to bed one last time.
It didn’t work.
Instead, my temples pounded.
I sent Marc an iMessage: “Tell Isabelle that if she wants to do a mitzvah, which is something we discussed at 5:30 a.m., then I have one for her to do.”
Two minutes later, Isabelle appeared beside me in her bed. “What kind of mitzvah, Mommy?”
“Do you remember what Mommy does when she has a bad headache? What do I get?” I asked.
“You go to Starbucks,” she replied.
“That’s right. Coffee helps my headaches. I was wondering if you’d like to do a mitzvah for me. Would you be able to go to the Starbucks at Giant or the regular Starbucks to buy me a coffee?”
“But you’ll need Daddy to go with you since you can’t drive yourself,” I said. “So it’s like you and Daddy doing a mitzvah for me together since my head hurts so badly and I don’t want to drive there myself.”
She agreed (though she took her sweet time getting dressed to leave the house).
Right before Marc left the house, I pulled him aside and encouraged him to talk to Isabelle about how they were doing something out of the ordinary for me this morning. It may have delayed their plans (of going to breakfast and then food shopping), but it was helpful me. He said he would and then left.
Not much later, the two of them returned with my coffee. And while it wasn’t a substitute for sleep, it helped give me the jolt I needed to be productive this morning.