If you ask my husband, he’ll say I’m a morning person.
I must admit, morning is my cup of tea. With the fresh air and the birds twittering and the day shaking off the dew of the night: every single thing is rife with possibilities. Everything has a new chance in that morning slant of sun, or – my personal favorite – in the brightening muffle of cloud-cover before it burns off after a bit. Such a gentle wake up from the sky.
But, things change.
If you ask me, my husband is an evening person.
He loves the energy of the night. When things are charged with the possibilities of a darkened world, without the workday holding claim to his time anymore, he comes alive.
Thus, we spent the early years of our marriage perpetually agog at the differences in our proclivities. I was exasperated that he would possibly wait until way past 10pm to bring up deep relational talks. He was indignant that I would wake him up before 10am on a Saturday morning just because it was, you know, morning time.
But slowly, over time, we learned we had to give a bit of ground in our schedules. We are, in fact, loving human beings. Besides, it’s what married people do.
Then kids arrived, and quite quickly, from birth on, we learned we had to give a whole heck of a lot of ground in our schedules. They are, in fact, unreasonable human beings. But they say, it’s what parents do.
But finally, now that my third baby is here, I’m getting good at the art of flexibility. It’s never awesome to wake multiple times a night to nurse. But, I have become resigned to it. And this resignation, it’s a welcome relief from the agony of frustration and resentment. Resignation, in this sense, is just an acceptance of what is. I have learned that if I fight the imposition of my family’s needs on my time, I just become an awful grump to live with. But if I accept it, then that paves the way for me to be present, and to vote for them with my time. I like the sound of that.
So when my husband is staying up late, I often stay up with him too. The fantastic by-product of the perpetual work of young children, is that an evening up late in the kitchen together – smearing cream cheese on Ritz crackers, and stifling giggles from burping up our sparkling waters – that’s probably the best time I’ve had in forever.
And the mornings when I set my alarm earlier than the kids get up, I’m always glad that I did. Through bleary eyes, I open my bedroom window, and feel the cool air. The sensations of my hoodie pulled overhead, and the sounds of the laptop keys tapping some version of my next blog post: these are the details of my happy place.
But Mama lives with eyes wide open, and she knows just as often the early bed times and the snoozing-until-the-last-possible-minute mornings. Especially this past week. The baby has been teething at a monstrously fast rate, so he has nursed 100x a night. Add to that a summer cold that I picked up from absolutely nowhere, and I had to cancel all early-morning “Me-time” for a bit, until that scratchy throat cleared up.
Things are going to mess up my nights. Bad dreams are going to need soothing. Babies are going to need nursing. Spouses and children are going to get sick, and need tending. But if I practice being flexible, just accepting what is, then it will go reasonably well with me.
And you know what I’ve found to be the most surprising? I don’t need nearly as much sleep as I had previously thought. Indeed, as I had previously griped for, moaned over, whined to acquire, and open-mouthed lamented the loss of – all that sleep was not really necessary for my well-being after all. It just goes to show that flexibility can change my mood dramatically. It may even work better than coffee. Well okay, maybe not… but I can say that flexibility can pair marvelously well with coffee: whatever time of the morning that delicious coffee maker burbles its magic brew.