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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Chillax (04/03/14)

TITLE: Graveyard Shift
By Leola Ogle
04/09/14


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In a city of a million people, when most were asleep, I’d position my face to rest my eyebrows against the microscope’s lenses. I’d try to relax or to ever so briefly doze because I had quota to make. Quota wasn’t mandatory but we got a bonus on our paycheck if we made quota.

Exhaustion was my constant companion. I yearned for rest, to get a full night’s sleep. I worked graveyard shift six nights a week assembling electronic parts at Motorola. That was easy. The hard part was trying to get adequate rest with three babies.

At twenty-years-old, I had a just-turned-three-year-old, a nineteen-month-old and a two-month old. Yes, you read that correctly. We needed more income and working graveyard shift meant I didn’t have to pay a baby-sitter. It was a win-win situation, or so I thought.

“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can abuse your body,” said my doctor after I’d been working graveyard shift for a year. I was driving home from work that morning when my vision blurred, my head spun, my limbs felt numb, and I hyperventilated. Morning commuters are not at all sympathetic to a young lady slumped over her steering wheel who’s blocking traffic.

“You’re not dying. You just need more than three hours of sleep a day. Quit, stay home and take care of your babies.”

Easy for you to say, doctor. We need my salary.

Disasters happened – things that would be considered humorous, unless you were the sleep-deprived mommy living it. Like when Tammy helped by washing dishes with Ajax. She put them in the cupboard caked with cleanser. Or the time she made a pitcher of kool-aid with salt instead of sugar. I awoke one afternoon to see all three in Stephanie’s crib surrounded by piles of hair and Tammy with scissors. The best stylist in the world couldn’t redeem that mess.

Saturday was my only night off work. Frequently I would bolt from bed convinced I overslept and was late for work. Once I ran into the living room in my underwear and announced to my husband and the church piano player, “Why didn’t you wake me? I’m late for work.”

I was too humiliated to go to church the next morning.

Not so amusing was the time two-year-old JR climbed out a window, because I only took Tammy to the store with me and not him. The police found him on the street before my husband did. We got our son back, no charges filed.

When all three got the measles, I only managed to sleep an hour or two a day. I collapsed at work, and was sent home.

My oldest started kindergarten, and yet, I worked. I muddled my way through days. Sometimes I’d arrive at work and not recall driving there. I always made quota. I socialized with co-workers, enjoying the camaraderie. I attended church on Sundays. I did laundry, shopping, housework, and millions of mommy things. What I never did was a get a full night sleep. Although we needed the money, my children needed a mother who wasn’t exhausted all the time.

There was bound to be something to push me over the edge. I got pregnant. “How did this happen?” My doctor just looked at me over the top of his glasses while writing a prescription for prenatal vitamins.

Still, I worked. I had morning sickness at night while getting ready for work. I’d hang over the toilet while teasing my hair – oh, those big hairdo days. I didn’t have time to vomit. I passed out at work three times and the nurse always sent me home. Still, I worked.

After Denise was born, I lasted two months at Motorola. I quit. I would finally get enough rest and relaxation. It didn’t happen immediately, though. I was used to eating a meal at three in the morning. My body didn’t know I wasn’t at work. Many mornings I’d wake up with bologna and bread crumbs stuck to my face, or cookie crumbs all over me from my refrigerator raids that I took to bed.

Tammy asked hundred times, “Why can’t we go to McDonald’s?”

“We don’t have the money,” I’d answer.

“Then take the blue paper to the bank, Mommy.”

Ah, the paychecks were gone. In retrospect, it all makes for great family stories. God was definitely watching out for us. Alas, I finally understood what was really important. And, I never took relaxation and sleep for granted again.


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This article has been read 73 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Tracy Nunes 04/10/14
Wow. You brought me into your routine and I felt your exhaustion. I think I need to take a nap! Great job!
Toni Hammer 04/11/14
As the mother of a one year old boy and two year old girl, I want to say God bless you. No one tells you of how much you sacrifice being a mother. I'm so glad you were able to quit your job.

This is poignant and right on topic. I hope it does well.
Camille (C D) Swanson 04/13/14
A greatly "underated" role being a parent. Raising children is the toughest job in the world, bringing young little souls into their own.

Well done, and well written. I hope you've gotten sufficient rest since this story was written!

God bless you and your little ones~
Charla Diehl 04/14/14
WOW--I'm exhausted for you.
Your writing drew me in and I felt your fatigue and frustration. It's good to know that you were able to quit and stay home with your children. You've probably figured this out already--but when we trust God completely to provide--He does!
Being a good mother is the most important job we can have--also the most rewarding. So hang in there because all too soon the children are off to college or getting married.