Thursday, July 7, 2011

To Sleep Or Not To Sleep

Daphne walked into the apartment, looking somewhat relieved, yet nervous about Rudy's reaction. "I quit my job, today," she told him. He looked at her, not sure what to think.  He looked at her tired expression and then at her swollen belly. "Why?" he asked. She knew she had made the right decision, for her - for their future; yet she knew it wasn't fair to Rudy that she hadn't consulted him about leaving a job that brought in money to help pay the bills. Daphne wrapped her hands under her pregnancy, her six months of baby inside her. "Well, I drive by the university everyday on my way to work; and everyday I tell myself that someday I will return to school to finish what I had started long ago." Rudy approached her, put his hands on her shoulders, and said that it was okay. "We will manage. We will figure it out."

Daphne's first semester, as a transfer student, was somewhat difficult. Not only did she have to renew her mindset to student but she was preoccupied with the fact that she would soon become a mother, for the first time. She was uncomfortable physically, and mentally, she felt overwhelmed. Tired, sure, but more than that Daphne was determined to walk a steady line. She completed the semester with all her could-have-done-a-better-job work turned in, finals finished. The following morning, her baby daughter was born.

Six weeks. That is the amount of time that she and Elizabeth initially bonded. No distractions. Well, as it always happens, time runs out. In mid-February, semester number two began; so, then, did a whole new take on how to do it all.  Throughout her pregnancy and into her schooling days, Rudy was working the graveyard shift - 11pm to 7am, constantly trying to adapt to some kind of sleep pattern. A new baby added a new dimension: when will I ever sleep? While Rudy worked through the night, Daphne was at home caring for her baby girl, waking up (did she really actually sleep?) every few hours to feed and change little Lizzy. Just before the sun rose, Daphne began gathering her school things while getting dressed (if you call sweatpants dressed); plus she was feeding Elizabeth, putting fresh linen (yep, they chose to have cotton diapers delivered to the house) on her cleaned-up bottom, and soothing her in the rocking chair. Rudy was due home soon, to take over while she went to morning classes.

Rudy looked exhausted as he walked through the front door, but he reached for his daughter with tired arms, held that child close, and began babbling quietly as Daphne rushed out the door.

Upon her return, several hours later, Daphne would quietly enter the apartment only to find Rudy lounging on the couch. His feet were splayed out in front of him, his head tilted back against the flimsy couch cushion and his arms were tightly, yet gently, wrapped around their sleeping baby. She did not want to interrupt Rudy's much needed jerks-awake-at-every-sound nap but she knew it was best to get him into the bedroom, close the door, and let him sleep for as many hours as he could manage. Not easy, though, when the bedroom window faces the kindergarten playground of the neighboring elementary school. Daphne then spent the day caring for Elizabeth, doing the best she knew how. When her child would fall asleep, Daphne would gather her homework and study. As late evening approached, after Rudy had eaten something, anything, he would kiss his girls goodbye; and then the cycle would begin again.

After two and one half years of adjusting to their  lifestyle - their I just wish I could sleep! lifestyle - Rudy tiredly took pictures of Daphne with a cap and gown on, Elizabeth in her arms, smiling at the camera.

She knew she still had an additional year of schooling to complete, in a credential program somewhere, anywhere, before she could teach solo in a classroom; for now, though, finances required Daphne to return to the work force, full-time. Sleep deprived or not, she was confident that the time to return to coursework would present itself accordingly. "Soon." Daphne told herself. "Soon, I will continue to pursue my dreams."

FOOTNOTE: Daphne did eventually return to school, taking evening classes so she could continue to work during the day. All in all, it took another 4 years to earn a credential. Since then she has been happily teaching young children.

1 comment: