Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On Being a Morning Person

This morning I left the house at 6:15, and I didn’t see my kids. I don’t know if they slept until 7 or if they woke my husband early.

I am a morning person. It wasn’t always this way. When I was a teenager, my dad, who has always been a morning person, would wake me for school by singing, in a dramatically loud and overly operatic voice, “If I were king of the forest.” It drove me nuts. But somehow, somewhere inside of me, my dad’s genes, and his song, reside, and now I am a morning person. I work effectively in the morning. I think more clearly. I accomplish a lot. When I taught high school, I would rise at 5AM just so I could get to school early to grade papers. My husband thought I was crazy. My dad thought he had succeeded.

Now that I teach graduate courses, my schedule has flipped, and I often work at night. I’ve had to adjust to thinking after 5PM, yet I still love the quiet time of the morning. Today I caught the early train, rising even before my 5:45AM alarm, just so I could get to my office in the city and get some quality work done.

So yes, despite the years of exhaustion at the hands of my children, I am still a morning person. Except when it comes to my kids. For some reason, the 2 years that I went without normal amounts of sleep while I comforted, nursed, and catered to my children, have prejudiced me against waking up early to take care of my tots. I hibernate in the morning. I feign sleep when I hear them crying, forcing my husband to make the trek down the hall to the nursery. I wait until I can’t wait any longer to roll out of bed to answer their calls for “Mama.”

Several months ago, when my son began shifting his waking time earlier and earlier, I devised a scheme to keep him in bed. Since he had started pointing out the letters A, B, and C on our magnet board, I figured I could teach him the numbers 6 and 7. I drew a big, orange number 7 on a sheet of paper and taped it next to the digital clock at the end of his crib. I explained that when the clock said 7, it was time to get up. If the clock said 6, he had to go back to bed. My trick was very successful in getting him to recognize the numbers. It was even more successful in getting him to ask at any time of the day, “What time it is?” After a few months of practice, I have been successful in getting him to say, “Clock says 6. Back to bed.” I have been less successful in actually getting him to do it.

So I don’t know if this morning was one of those mornings where he stayed in bed until 7 or whether my husband had to rise early, perhaps catching just a few more winks on the floor of the nursery until our son announced, “Daddy, get up.” What I do know is that I didn’t hear, “Mama, wake up,” and I made it to my office early today, enjoyed the quiet of the building, and got my work done. Because after all, like my son, I am a morning person.

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