Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Chillax (04/03/14)
TITLE: Graveyard Shift
By Leola Ogle
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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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