Waking Up Mom Was Hard To Do

13 Feb

For years I thought my mom was a super hero whose power was that she never needed to sleep. She was up when I climbed into my bed and there she was again, day after day, puttering around the house in the morning. What the hell did she do all night? For all I knew she was controlling a Midwest drug cartel. But I decided she was probably just scrubbing the skid marks out of my Fruit of the Looms. I was certain skid mark removal had to be a full-time job. But later I found out she did, in fact, sleep every night, and that impressed me even more. I mean, if she could keep my underwear brilliant white and NOT work the overnight shift–wow. Anyway, once in awhile (maybe ten times during my childhood) I needed her help in the middle of the night. Yep, that first time in a silent house I searched all over, and there she was in the last place I expected…in bed, asleep.

I can think of only 3 reasons I ever had to rouse my mom from a deep sleep: (1) I felt like I was going to throw up all over myself; (2) I had already thrown up all over myself, or; (3) my dad, drunk, had thrown up all over me and had passed out under the swing set in the back yard. Obviously, mom didn’t like opening her eyes to me standing by her bed. Bad news all the way around. I didn’t much like it either; in fact, it scared the sh– out of me.

In my experience humans wake up in two ways, and I’m not talking about what kind of mood we wake up in, which can range from cheery to “kill me now.” No, I’m talking about the moment your eyelids separate, the moment before you have time to think, the split second before “Oh my God, I didn’t take enough pills, I have to life another hellish day on Earth.” Get it? That moment. The way I wake up, I like to call the “normal” way, and this means that I open my eyes slowly and remain in a horizontal position and speak in hushed tones (if I speak at all). The second “way” is known by two names, depending on where you live: In California it’s called the “earthquake wake” and in other parts of the world it’s called the “war torn rise.”

In my childhood home, I called it the “Oh Jesus I have to wake up mom.” Think of the Jack-in-the-Box toy: you know it’s going to pop up and make you crap your pants, but you have to turn the crank anyway…a tiny bit at a time.

I don’t remember the first time, but I’m sure it ended with me curled on the floor by her bed, crying. From then on, the process of waking her would take up to an hour, because I would stop off in the living room to watch the most wicked scenes of The Exorcist to ready myself. After watching Regan’s head swivel 360°, I thought could handle anything.

I employed two basic “wake up mom” strategies: the pussyfoot and the little-less-pussyfoot.

My least favorite, the pussyfoot method, called for me to tiptoe up to her bedside and stand there staring at her. This was torture for me because, eventually–2 hours later?–she would sense someone creepy standing over her, watching her sleep, and she would bolt upright and yell something like “Who are you!” or “Bomb!” or “Skid marks!” Well, to be fair, I don’t remember actual words. More accurately, just think of the sound you would make if you found a severed head in your closet.

The little-less-pussyfoot method was way better because I had a general idea of when the upright bolt and gasp was coming. I felt more in control. I would create some noise entering the room. For example, I made sure my socked feet would strike the carpet with some force. (But, really, how much sound could that have made?) Also, I would deal out a pseudo-cough or that “clear my throat” sound on the way in. Usually, though, when I reached her bed I would turn into a big fat chicken and revert back to the standard pussyfoot method. Again, I would stand there, silently….

Finally, a whisper: “mom.”



A little louder: “mom.”

Then I would push on the mattress, enough to move her arm a couple of millimeters.

Whisper: “mom.”

Then sometimes I would pull on a blanket or sheet…ever so slightly. Nothing. Damn! (That’s an internal “damn,” of course.)

Growing desperate, but remembering my throat tricks: Hack. Ahem. Hack. Hack. Ahem.

At this point I knew she would wake up any second, so I pushed on, sweat pouring down my face, heart thumping. With a shaky little arm I would tap her shoulder. “Mom!”

BOOM! The walls and ceiling crack, the floor turns to Jell-O. A flash of fire. Skin melting. The house, gone.

She would startle awake, sitting up, “What!” As I pooped myself, I would forget what the hell I was doing in there, that I had thrown up on myself an hour ago.

“Um, I had a bad dream.”

“What’s that smell?”

“Uh–what?–I’m going back to bed now.”

“Okay, good night.”

I walked back to bed wondering why I had even bothered. As a child–and again in my my twenties–I had no problem at all with sleeping a few hours in my own mess of poo and vomit.

Note: Though the above is based on true events, it has been exaggerated for effect. For example, dad usually passed out inside the house.


13 Responses to “Waking Up Mom Was Hard To Do”

  1. Redneckprincess February 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Hahahaha…my teenagers take after you, how the hell did that happen?

  2. ozarkmomma February 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    In a mom’s defense, it is quiet unnerving to be sound asleep dreaming of things that don’t involve washing machines, dishes and cleaning up puke,and then being woke up by being stared at for minutes on end without sound.

    • fightn4it February 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      Ha. Yeah, she has told me that.

  3. linda February 13, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    I remember timid Mom call outs in the middle of the night too. I remember throwing up on my Mrs. Beasley doll after I thought I had turned the other way so I wouldn’t throw up on her. 😦

    So now that you have job experience that means that your kids should have no worry about asking for help in the middle of the night. Greet them with cheer so they will have sweet memories.

    • fightn4it February 15, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

      They have NO worries about waking me up in the middle of the night. Just last night (4 a.m.)…”Can I sleep with you?” I pulled her into to bed with with a kiss, but without a word.

  4. scriptorobscura February 13, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    Hahaha, love it! 🙂

    • fightn4it February 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

      Thank you!

  5. faithandstagefright February 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Haha, this made me laugh out loud! Great post!

    • fightn4it February 15, 2011 at 12:41 pm #


  6. Lunar Euphoria February 16, 2011 at 8:34 am #


    I never woke up my mom — it was always my dad. The first time I woke him up, I was about three and I was so confused why he was still sleeping when I was awake. It didn’t seem possible. The wake up method I used that day was to go pop open his eyelids with my fingers to see what was going on in there. Imagine being woke up by a three year old staring into your eyeball?

  7. alittlebitstronger143 May 2, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    that was hilarious and i can totally relate!!:)

  8. mom July 27, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Since I was ALWAYS the first one up
    and last one to bed it scared me then and now to be awakened by someone else…I was always the one that had to wake everyone else up for whatever reason…it still scares me!

    • fightn4it July 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

      Yeah, I KNOW it scared you. lol. I’m not like that though; unfortunately, the girls have NO problem waking me up, midnight, two, four…doesn’t matter.

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