Sleep tight

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Geoff, Jan, the 4 year old and I are visiting Holland.

It’s the birthplace of both of my parents… a country where everything feels familiar, and most every face I see, is like looking in a mirror. It’s a country where my possibly abnormal devotion to all things black and brown makes perfect sense.


Also, you can buy croquettes from vending machines. Croquettes!


The shopkeepers address me in Dutch. I nod for a while before realizing I only understand half of what they say, and can only reply in English. I smile and tell them so. They say,  “But you look so Dutch!”

It’s a compliment, I think. Which was not so much the case when a boy named Dave used to call me “Dutchie” in high school. Of course, he also called me “Inga, from Sweden”. And sometimes: “that cute but dopey girl”. On second thought, maybe he was flirting with me. I was never very good at picking up on signals, mostly because I was usually too tired to think straight.

The thing is, I need a LOT of sleep in order to function and when  I don’t get enough, I’m really kind of a disaster. Trouble is, I’m a ridiculously light sleeper and most any noise, movement or thought will wake me from a deep slumber in a heartbeat.

Here is a list of what wakes me up:

  • An airplane flying in the distance. Like, in Australia.
  • The 4 year old getting up to use the washroom.
  • Me, breathing.
  • A spider, spinning a web.
  • A ladybug crawling on the windowsill.
  • A cloud floating by.
  • A fruit fly landing on a banana in the kitchen.
  • Anyone, anywhere thinking about anything.

You get the idea.

It’s why I avoided sleepovers as a kid, how I became so easily addicted to sleeping pills during my college years and the reason I haven’t slept more than a few hours at a time since marrying an active sleeper. The thing is, as soon as Geoff shuts his eyes, he dreams. About mountain biking. His legs shimmy and shake as he barrels down hills, jumps stumps and hops over rocks. All. Night. Long.

Not at all conducive to a good night’s rest.

However, since landing in The Netherlands, I’ve slept like a baby. First I thought it was the comfortable surroundings, the familiar language, the croquette comas and the fact that we are living below sea level.

But, it isn’t any of those things. It’s the beds.

Instead of a queen or king mattress, Geoff and I are sleeping on two single beds pushed together to form one big bed.

It’s how they do it in Holland. Those Dutch. Always thinking.

Two sets of sheets, two duvets and a nice big crack separating personal space. It’s how I imagine heaven. This way, I  can sleep in the fetal position without being disturbed by the cycling tornado laying beside me.

Here’s our bed(s) after we got up this morning.  Go ahead and guess which side is mine.


I feel as though I’ve been drugged. In a good way. That’s how well I’m resting here. Which is why I’m already planning to chainsaw my mattress in half as soon as I get home.

Methinks Lucy and Ricky were on to something...


No, really.

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