I grew up surrounded by Night Owls. Everyone in my family stayed up late all the time, particularly on weekends. This was mostly due to the fact that my mother has always been a chronic napper. We all knew that every afternoon was quiet time and there was no reason in the world–none–in which you should wake her up. She was also a champion sleeper-inner. Again, there was no reason that she would ever be woken up. (“You missed the bus? Too bad, so sad, now get walking. So what if you have to cross a ten-lane major thoroughfare on the way to elementary school. You should have thought about that earlier. And it’s snowing? That’s what boots were invented.”) This set her up for a pattern which continues to this day. She has to stay up late because she took a nap. But she’s so tired since she stayed up late that she has to take a nap. To this day she refuses to believe that this is all a self-perpetuating problem.
Breakfast growing up was mostly made by us. it usually consisted of cereal which would be eaten while sitting on top of the heating vents in our kitchen, with our nightgowns tented over the top to trap all the warm air. (Michigan was always cold, even inside). Lunches were packed by us and starred a PB&J sandwich that had been previously made and frozen. These sandwiches were all lined up in a neat row across the door of the freezer. Frozen, they were actually pretty decent with the peanut butter retaining a pleasant hardness that never froze entirely. But once they were defrosted they were a hideous soggy mess that was particularly susceptible to apples. I can’t tell you how many times I would dump out my Charlie’s Angels lunch box only to find a wet apple-sized dent in the middle of the bread. Even now I have PTSD flashbacks when I see a package of Uncrustables in the grocery store freezer. I can’t imagine paying money for such a thing.
So, yes, mornings were a time of cold, dark unhappiness. Best to avoid them entirely.
College was a revelation. Classes could be scheduled whenever I wanted? Naturally I never chose anything before noon. I couldn’t understood why everyone wasn’t on campus at 9 p.m., after-dinner seeming to be the most civilized time to go to school. So what if walking home down “Rape Hill” was simply terrifying? At least I didn’t have to set an alarm clock ever.
Even when I worked I waited tables (“I’ll take the lunch shifts, please”) or had a retail job that would let me come late and stay later. Only idiots and weirdos would get up early on purpose!
But then I went and had babies. No matter what I tried, they just didn’t like to stay up late. Or rather, they liked to stay up late just fine. But they also like to get up very early. And the crummy thing about babies is that once they’re up, they’re up. It’s not like a dog where I could just let it out into the backyard then climb back into bed. No. These tiny people wanted to be fed and played with. So inconsiderate.
The oddest thing started happening, though. I found that after a couple of years that I had more energy and vigor (or was it vim) in the morning. I actually started waking up before the kids to shower and get ready. I seemed to accomplish so much more when I would get up early. It felt like a revelation!
I also started getting very tired at night. I tried to force myself to stay up but the lustre was gone. I didn’t want to see midnight movies anymore. I certainly didn’t want to have a late-night job.
This summer I have realized that the night-owl in me has completely and absolutely died. And I’m quite happy about that. I love to wake up before everyone and read my scriptures and check my email and computer stuff before anyone is awake. I have so much more energy and find that I get a million more things done when I get a big jump on the day. Part of me feels like this is lame. I never in my life thought I would see the sun rise every single day. And that I would be OK with it.
I do wonder, though, what will happen when I don’t have to be up and around for little kids. Will I stay in bed all day again? Or will I keep my early bird ways?