My Early Birds vs A Night Owl ~
And How We Still Get The Worm
I live in a house of early birds. I should have known this would be the struggle that would shape my life.
When I was 15 I would stay up till all hours of the night, into the morning. My internal clock was just off. It drove my mom nuts and affected my school schedule the worst. But when eight o’clock rolled around I just couldn’t COULDN’T fall asleep. My Mother was pretty strict. No matter what time of year it was, she usually expected us (my three siblings and me ) in bed by eight. Summer was the exception. But even then staying up all night was considered taboo. But for me, lying in my bed with my thoughts swirling and swirling was like slow torture. My Mother wears hearing aids. Often I would peek in on her to be sure she had taken them out - a sure sign she was down for the night. Then I would sneak downstairs to watch tv. I would also set up under my blanket with a flashlight and a book, or notepad. I often popped my window out and climbed out into the moonlight to my hidden perch on the roof overhang. I would sit with a notebook and pen and let my mind pour out. It was only after that methodic mind pouring that I could sleep restfully.
Fast forward to my early years with my now-Hubby. Dating was kind of a whirlwind. We stayed up all night with friends dancing drinking and having a wild blast. He had a sneaky habit of waking me up often to watch the sunrise and walk the sand dunes at the beach…It was so romantic. But if I had known how easy it was for him, then I might not have loved it so much. I later discovered that he was a veteran of early mornings. He grew up with an Elderly Grandmother on a desert ranch waking up as early as 4 AM. Then as a teen in the city, he walked or rode his bike to school for (get this!) ZERO period! Here was me, barely able to make it to the first period. And here he spent his mornings up so early he could hear the chickens crow. He got dressed, got coffee and crossed a small southern Cali town to take early advanced classes.
I should have known that by choosing this strange breed of bird, my life would spill over with a weird hybrid and deprive me of sleep. My Hubby decided to propose to me on Christmas morning. I mean specifically at Sunrise on the beach. That’s right folks! I had to drag my butt out of bed early enough to be at the beach at sunrise!
** It was beautiful and I’d never change if for anything**
Let’s move on to the first of our kiddos, LB (Little Bear/Bean.) She started the sleep deprivation from the get go. My labor with her started around 11pm on a Wednesday night. It kept me up until I went to the hospital the next morning, Thursday. She was born that Friday morning at 4:02 AM!! While I lay in the recovery room drifting in and out of sleep from sheer exhaustion, I watched Hubby standing at the window overlooking the city. The sun was highlighting a new day as he introduced her to the world, whispering to her all his hopes and dreams for us.
Five years later my little boy was born and he too was in on the plot. In utero, he kept me up all night with kicks and rolling. But he slept all day long and the only time that changed was when I woke up at 5 AM on the day he was born. I felt the biggest burst of energy that spurred a whole day of cleaning and errand running. All the while I had been contracting and in labor. I was in total denial thinking I had plenty of time, I kept moving all day. I ended up almost giving birth at home, then almost in the car. Finally ten minutes after pulling into the hospital parking lot, out he came…no time for meds.
Now the trend continues. I have to apply a delicate balance to keep surviving. I stay up late to get those precious few moments of clarity and creativity. The undisturbed night is the only time I have, and I work myself to sleep. My son is up with the sun, and so is my daughter. Their Dad prefers jobs that start as early as possible so he's up even earlier than them. My solution to fight zombie-dom and survive the horribly opposing schedule is music. And keeping super active around the house helps a ton. Cleaning, any project, and creative outlets do wonders for my energy. I love teaching my kids new things and taking them places to play. I find that when I have an exercise schedule, it keeps the adrenaline pumping. It keeps me moving with 6 hours or less of sleep.
That ‘worm’ will one day become more attainable. It seems that the balance between life and sleep is ever an ebb and flow….And Did I mention coffee?