Lately I feel like my brain is on holiday. I find myself wandering the supermarket unable to remember exactly what I’m supposed to be shopping for, reaching the end of a newspaper article and having no idea what I’ve just read.
It has to be the sleep deprivation. A few happy, isolated incidents aside, I haven’t had more than five hours of uninterrupted shut-eye since my daughter was born six months ago. Maybe once she gets the hang of not waking me up at three in the morning I’ll get back to some good, serious thinking. For now my brain’s stuck on diaper rash remedies, dirty laundry, the absolute adorableness of little baby toes.
My previous multisyllabic life
I used to be a lot deeper. I used to be a grad student and spend hours and hours in the library; I had a shelf full of books about culture and social systems and religion. I knew what a lot of really long and hard to pronounce words meant.
Lately most of my reading happens when I tuck my three-year-old in for the night, and has to do with talking animals and dump trucks and cartoon characters.
If I have to read the freakin’ Lion King one more time…
I’m fine with this though. I now have an exhaustion-born appreciation for simple stories, simple images. I don’t mean anything along the lines of Teletubbies mindlessness or those too-long children’s books clumsily condensed from Disney movies—on four hours of sleep I feel ill at the thought of reading any more about Simba and that glorious circle of life.
I like kids’ books that are a little poetic, that aren’t part of some huge merchandising scheme.
The rock stayed the same
Luckily my son has had good taste these days.
One of his favorites—it belonged to my husband when he was a boy—is the nicely written God is Like: Three Parables for Little Children. It’s based in Scripture, and it uses straightforward metaphors to describe God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It’s a religious book meant for very young kids, but it seems to work just as well on worn-out mommies.
Jesus is like a spark of light, I read to my son; he’s the light of the world. The spirit is like the wind, the invisible hand of God at work. “God is like a rock,” I say. “His love is always there and always the same.”
“The rock stayed the same,” my son chimes in. I probably learned the same thing when I was three. I’ve been hearing things like this my whole life. Hearing it now, at the end of days that sometimes seem surreally pointless in their constant feed-the-baby-change-the-baby-get-the-baby-to-sleep routine, I feel sane again.
The simple life
I’m not really worried about the disappearance of my critical thinking skills. I’m sure their absence is temporary. I have a feeling that my life, when I’m more awake, will eventually get back around to university libraries, maybe a theology course or two at the local Catholic college. Right now, simple is working for me. Laundry. Diapers. Little baby toes. And reminders that God is in the midst of it, never changing.