I distinctly remember vowing that I would never, ever, ever provide 24 hour childcare again.
I have had three days to remember why. 72 hours straight.
That's not true; I nodded off for a few moments while I was feeding a munchkin this morning.
Five children under five–in addition to my own six–after the regulars go home.
Complete mental and physical exhaustion. Bone weary, muscles pleading, soles aching, back breaking exhaustion. Just like I remember it. Except not.
Where is the emotional collapse that typically accompanies extended sleep deprivation? The ill-concealed irritability and snarling, even?
Strange. And completely unmerited. I'm trying to pinpoint the difference.
When I was fifteen years old I was riding shotgun, without my seatbelt, in my neighbor's Ford van.
We never saw the Jeep coming.
Just wham! into the post of the door beside my seat.
I'll never forget the sound when it struck. A sound that reached into the neighborhood down all four compass points from the intersection and brought every homeowner out at a dead run. It picked up that van and sent us tumbling roof over wheels across the blacktop. I think the sound was still going when the onlookers started in with pry bars to break us free of our prison.
And me, inside of it.
Maybe you don't believe in miracles. Maybe you've prayed for relief or protection or an answer and you didn't think God was listening because the desired blessing never came.
But I was inside that noise.
I was sitting, upright in my seat when the Jeep struck, and I was sitting upright in the middle of that noise while the entire mass of twisting, shrieking metal spun around me. Glass, metal, sky.
And I was sitting upright when the noise gave way to silence. The seat somewhere above me, and my forearms trembling, but my hands in my lap and my skirt still tucked neatly around my knees.
My neighbor looked up at me and we laughed because we were alive and the world was sideways. I was sitting on her hip, with my feet out her shattered window.
They say her fastened seatbelt saved her life, and my unfastened one saved mine. But I knew better. Because while the van and the noise and my generously-sized neighbor spun around me, it wasn't a seatbelt, undone, that cradled me there, in the eye of a maelstrom of metal and glass, and set me down again, safely, when it was over.
I walked away from that accident. Literally. Ten blocks South, and three blocks East, home. The ambulance crew, when they finally tracked me down, did not approve. But the follow-up at the ER confirmed what I already knew–that nothing broke through that eye of protection to touch me.
That's what I feel like, this week.
Sixteen hours of relentless cacophony gave way to silence about ten minutes ago and I find myself, still upright and my ankles crossed.
Writing, for heaven's sake. When I should be sleeping. The little hellions could awake at any moment.
Come to think of it… maybe I have lost it…