habits.

you wake at 2 a.m. thinking failure,
fool,
unable to sleep, unable to sleep Alicia Suskin Ostriker

My friend Brandi just wrote a terrific post about finding a holy moment in the midst of a rough day. It reminded me of what so many people say about new motherhood, that it is one of those thin places in life where we bump right up against the divine. I wrote about that myself last year.

I am still feeling stretched thin in the worst of ways. Atticus is now sleeping through the night, but a year of waking up at 4:00 am means that I am programmed to wake up then whether he is awake or not. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get more than six hours of sleep a night. There is a particular despair that surfaces when you wake before the baby. There is another despair that surfaces when the baby stays with your mom and you still can’t get more than seven hours of sleep. I dread going to bed.

I know it is boring to constantly talk about sleep, but the thing that most makes me feel like butter scraped over too much bread is not being able to sleep. Perhaps it should be one of those thin places that brings me closer to the holy things of life, but I don’t know how anyone can be an insomniac and reach for those holy things.

When we saw Lauren Winner on Saturday, she spoke a bit on the differences between Judaism and Christianity, and one of the things she spoke about was how Judaism is centered on practice (I quoted her on this idea many years ago here). She said that she had thought that, as a Christian, putting certain practices in place would help her when her faith wasn’t enough, when times came to her life like what she describes in Still. But the truth is that those practices failed her, too.

It was a relief to hear her say that even though she had made a habit of her faith practices, even though she thought those habits would sustain her, that it did not. I thought it was just me.

Our pastor calls Lent the “spring cleaning of the soul.” There are a few bad habits I am trying to let go of and a few good ones that I am trying to take up. I am also trying to address my physical well-being so that I can get out of the habit of being awake in the middle of the night. I have started to feel like addressing bad habits isn’t quite enough. My soul needs a spring cleaning overhaul.

But first I could use a nap.

Preferably without wearing a jacket.

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