You know when you look at a document and you see what you want to see? You know when you pull someone else into the process, and that person looks, and verifies what you (think you) saw? You know when you check one last time out of some deeply rooted obsessive quality, or perhaps a tiny nagging feeling that you can’t quite explain, and then – the worst happens?

Okay. Not the absolute worst. That’s when you just missed the deadline. A drop dead date with no wiggle room. And nothing you can do. Nada.

That wasn’t where we found ourselves exactly. About 13 hours ago. We were looking at a date and seeing January 1 only to realize it was actually December 1 in the teeniest tiniest fine print on a web page. So we looked again, made a phone call and (drum roll please) – yep. What we thought was due on January 1 was due on December 1.

Can you spell PANIC?

Once the panic passes, you experience a very particular sinking feeling followed by resolve. You know you screwed up. Big. But you still have 13 hours – more actually. Maybe 18. And instead of giving in to panic – or giving up – you yield to coffee and chocolate and go for an All-Nighter.


Nothing like a little shared time with your teenager, right? Like a block of 12 hours – um – make that 13 – and three pots of coffee. Now I love coffee, but my son only drinks it when feats of sleepless magic are required. Like this past night. Like these next down-to-the-wire hours. Like me keeping him awake, walking, talking – then leaving him alone – then checking to make sure he was still awake… all the while, he writes, he thinks, he writes, and I struggle with burning a CD that doesn’t seem to want to cooperate.

Are we there yet? Have I made it to the post office yet with the golden deliverable (that damn CD) that must be postmarked December 1? And the other documents that need to be sent off tomorrow – uh – make that today? Are my eyelids taped open or is that just the caffeine pumping through my system? Do I dare walk back to the sofa and hope my kid is still upright? And how long will I still be upright?

Discipline (a.k.a. Never Say Die)

When we found out we screwed up, we could’ve thrown in the towel. But we’re a “never say die” kind of household. Time management may be among the life skills that could use a bit of polishing, but what we might lack in planning (or fine print reading) we make up for in perseverance, determination, and keeping our eyes on the prize.

Don’t try? Guaranteed fail.

Give it a shot? You’ve got a shot!

Good Counsel, Good Company

At least my son and I both misread the dates and the instructions. Not that it’s a good thing, but we feel less idiotic somehow. Misery loves company?

We also managed to steady each other through these long hours of the evening – going silent when we needed to, splitting into separate rooms when we needed to, even trading computers when required (mine has software that his doesn’t).

A reasonable team effort, with my “Let’s stay focused” mantra bubbling up from some semi-conscious remnant of common sense, even through the hours.

I know that was good counsel. Was I good company? Hard to say… Hell, I don’t even know if I’m making any sense. But the kid? What a good sport and so good-natured. But we aren’t there yet…

Win or Lose, This is Success

As for this meandering sleep-deprived coffee-high sort of ramble, all I can say is I am a fortunate woman. I have two grounded, funny, polite, decent, smart, talented kids. How many parents can say they pull all-nighters under pressure, side by side with their teenagers, calmly?

Whatever happens with my son’s projects and applications – or for that matter – with my own goals and endeavors, sitting side by side through most of the night I was proud to be that kid’s mom. Impressed with his self-discipline, his ability to multitask, his creativity even on no sleep, his willingness to keep pushing to make the goal. To not give up.

Permission to fail? Not in this house. And the only failure is in not trying.

So I’m raising my glass (coffee mug) to a little sleep for my son later today after school – for more hours of wakefulness for myself to get more things done (after the post office) – and for a good outcome. Like finishing before the sun comes up! No doubt, there are more challenges and all-nighters ahead, for both of us, but right now, he’s hanging in – and so am I.

© D A Wolf



  1. says

    Wishing you both just enough caffeine to make it through the day and many hours of sweet sleep tonight! Congratulations on finishing. What a way to spend 13 hours, but at least you had each other’s company! =>

  2. says

    My hat is off to both of you – What an effort the two of you made – and that 13 hour adventure is full of experience and reward. I can’t imagine doing everything in one night… so hats off to both of you and here’s to a restful sleep at some point!

  3. says

    Something wonderfully bonding about going through tough things together—hats off to you and your kid (at the same time I’m coming to treasure sleep more and more… I know you are one to keenly appreciate its elusive capacity to renew and to torture). All Good Wishes… for the best of naps.

  4. Glacel says

    Thank goodness for coffee, and kudos for pulling an all-nighter! I hope you finish soon so you can have a great night sleep and celebrate. You and your sons make a great team. :)

  5. says

    Post offices just closed here in the Midwest and I’m thinking of you. Hope the deed is done and you’re both racked out somewhere dead asleep. Knowing you, it all got done. So I’ll just go ahead and say it: Congrats!

  6. says

    Wishing you much success and REST when all is said and done. Good job mom. I enjoy reading how you manage these situations and can only hope I handle it with the calmness that encompasses you. I yell too much! These teen years are trying!

  7. says

    Wow, this is such a positive spin on what could have been a train wreck. I love those lessons that sneak up on us. What a beautiful moment (and lesson) between you and your son!

    • BigLittleWolf says

      Well – we made it! And there parts that had to come from me (a very complex application process that requires information from parents – and I”m also “the wheels,”); the bulk of it had to come from my son of course. I fed him every two hours or so through the night, and all through the next day, and it continued into early evening. Not exactly “in the plan” for the week. But life does toss us a few obstacles!

      Another great lesson? Always listen to that teeny tiny (obsessive, helpful) little voice that says to check dates, times, requirements.

  8. says

    You are a great role model to your sons with your determination and *never say die* attitude. When he’s rested, I’m sure he will look back and see a mom that obviously tries to move heaven and earth to help him reach his goals. What a wonderful memory to take away from this (and others, I’m sure) experience. Michelle said it best…”What a beautiful moment (and lesson) between you and your son!”

  9. says

    I agree with Mark, it is about our reaction to those unexpected surprises that make or break how we deal with things. Kudos to you and your son BLW!

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