Mary ama dormire (Modern Mary loves to sleep)

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love to sleep.

Whether waking or sleeping, Modern Mary makes sleep a priority. Postcard image by Trish Grantham

It might be in my genes. My father has always been a notorious sleeper. Give him 5 minutes in a comfortable chair, regardless of the hour, and he will give you a nap.

I’m not so much the napping type as I am the sleep-for-10-hours-at-a-time type. I often tell Mr. Bailey, “You know what I’d like to do? Sleep for two weeks.”

In times of stress, I like to head to bed around 9:30 and sleep, preferably, until 8 or 9 a.m.

If you’re a sleeper like me, you know dreams sometimes play a role in the experience.

Since my mom died, my dreams have become rich, offbeat and resonant parts of my nighttime routine.

It seems every suggestion or fear is immediately processed into my subconscious and put into the dream queue.

I’ve had a hard time adjusting to the absence of constant conversations with my siblings, the important conferring, the unity of our family as we fought cancer collectively. I am in the midst of deciphering what our family will be like now that my mother, the spoke, the emotional home of our unit, is gone.

In my midnight dreams, my three brothers and I are in my grandmother’s old house, together, sharing memories, looking around the dining room, theFloridaroom, laughing, when suddenly we hear the new owners arriving home. We all run into the yard, dashing like mad from our nostalgic breaking and entry.

I keep forgetting to put my hair up in rag curls at night!

I’m running blindly, trying to keep track of my brothers, desperate. Where have they gone? I catch flashes of their clothes as I dash down a set of stairs somewhere. We need to stay together, I insist.

Awake, I have fretted about the coming holidays, with their ties to home and family, memories like glittering lights on a twinkle string. They seem to illuminate only sadness without my mom.

At night, my third eye takes me to a future peculiarly reversed. It’s a future in which my father died instead of my mom. There we are in the midst of the holidays without him, all of us gathered where we always do – in my parent’s kitchen, surrounded by friends, family, trying to make sense of the first holiday without him.

In our daylight conversations, Mr. Bailey suggests we do something completely different and take a trip toNew Yorkright before Christmas.

As I lay sleeping, I dream we are stepping out of the airport into aNew York Citydecorated to the hilt with festive lights, swaying in a brisk winter wind. I feel the straps from the luggage I carry (with two kids we always have lots of luggage) dig into my shoulder as we cross a busy street to our hotel. Then we’re walking through a warm hotel, a corridor decorated with trees and ornaments and people milling, all sorts of people, here, and not home, for the holidays. It feels strange, exciting.

When I wake, I tell Mr. Bailey about myNew York dream.

“You are so impressionable,” he says, his eyes twinkling.

The dreams sometimes detract from the restfulness of my sleep, and sometimes enhance it. I wake with a sinking feeling so often it’s become a part of my morning routine. I imagine actually sinking into my bed, being swallowed by it. It’s not unpleasant.

Eventually, when all of the fantasies of slumber have been dislodged by the slanting soft light of morning, I get up. I RSVP for tonight to my sheets, my pillow, my comforter, my dreams.

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Secondo v. Food

One of my earliest memories of Secondo is her smashed up newborn face pressed into my breast, glug, glug, glugging away on milk. She was immediately a good eater, and a little bit of a food oddball.

If only Secondo was so eager to eat...

When she got a little bit bigger, her nursing efficiency excelled. She wouldn’t even stop to cough. I still can’t figure out how she did it, but the child could cough while still latched on, spraying milk all over me, and her, and not miss the next glug.

Her second year brought an addiction to black beans, avocado and cherry tomatoes, halved. She only drank cow’s milk – preferably warmed in the microwave for 1 minute, even in the dead of summer. Altogether those foods were at least 50% of her daily diet.

Besides her Mr. Bailey and I, Prima, and our dog, Chance, milk has probably been the most consistently reassuring aspect of her young life.

Despite her food promiscuity in her second year, Secondo has regrettably become picky. She tends toward vegetarianism (fine by us), and relies upon the presentation of wheat- and dairy-based foods for needed sustenance.

Secondo’s food groups include: Annie’s Organic Mac & Cheese, cheese sticks, apples and peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on wheat (crusts removed, please), plain pasta, cherry tomatoes, halved; mandarin and Clementine oranges and Pirate Booty.

Also, she chews her food longer than any other human being I’ve ever witnessed, particularly when she doesn’t particularly want to ingest it.

One night recently, I wanted to provide our youngest with some protein so I cut our freshly prepared teriyaki chicken into delicious bite-sized pieces and strongly encouraged her to, “Try some!” Smile, smile, smile, nod encouragingly.

After some cajoling, she dove into it. I grinned, smugly, and we began talking about the high points and low points of our day. A full 20 minutes later, Secondo began asking if she could be excused. As she asked, I spotted a flash of fleshy white tucked into the cheek of her mouth.

“Is that your chicken?!” I asked.

She dropped her chin and looked up at me through the top of her blue-green-gray eyes, nodding slightly.

“Chew and swallow, child! Chew and swallow!” I admonished, as Mr. Bailey and I shook our heads.

Several days later, Secondo got the chance to go out to lunch with my Dad.

At dinner later that evening, I asked her where they had gone.

“Papa took me to McDonald’s,” she whined, not being a big fan of the golden arches. “I had milk.”

“That’s all you had?” I asked, incredulous. She nodded solemnly.

“What did Papa have?”

“A fish sandwich.”

“Secondo, why didn’t you get something else to eat?” I inquired, as she sat not eating her dinner. “A hamburger or oranges or something?”

She shook her 4-year-old head of golden curls and placed both pudgy hands on the table, clearly exasperated by all my questioning.

“BEE-cause you don’t want me to eat things that aren’t FRESHhhhh!”

Sigh.

One day, we might unlock the key to Secondo’s curious appetite. Until then, we’ll just keep repeating, “Chew and swallow, Sisi, chew and swallow.”