I never was a morning person. I loved the night. I stayed up after everyone else was asleep, relishing the quiet and the dark. There is something lovely about the quiet of the night. I can think at night. It’s addictive this silence. Historically the love of this nighttime has almost been enough to push me into a self-imposed insomnia.
As I’ve aged I’ve discovered something new about me. There’s something about the morning, not EARLY morning but morning yet, First Thing, that grabs me. I throw off the arms and legs of children who’ve crawled into bed with me, stumble with intense tunnel vision to the coffee maker and wait with great anticipation for that first cup of resolve to warm my hand. “Hurry” I whisper to the machine as it brews. I know it hears me.
Truthfully I thought it was the coffee that gave me that feeling of euphoria First Thing in the morning. “I can conquer the world before 11am” I think. I really think that. If you’ve gotten really upbeat and lovely emails from me before 11am you’ll see what I mean.
Considering it today though, I think it’s not the coffee. I think it’s the light. I think it’s the promise of the day. Everything is new again. I think I can conquer the world and maybe today is actually the day I WILL conquer the world or at least get the bathroom cleaned. Today is hopeful; the light assures me of that. Today can be anything, there is no past only now. The coffee helps, of course, but it’s the light that needs to take credit for the promise.
And then it’s suddenly Eleven. Eleven has a watch on her wrist. It’s nearly “not morning” anymore, she intones. She’s still chipper, she’s still hopeful but she’s got that look on her face of steely determination as well. Eleven is not as invincible as First Thing but only in that she’s just a little more panicked, a little more fearful.
So I jump on the list. First Thing doesn’t have a list, she just has a concept. She’s a free agent, baby. She takes it as it comes and writes it all down. Kicking butt and taking names. Eleven has a list. It’s so restricting, that bloody list. It’s gratifying, I’ll admit, to cross things OFF the list so that’s enough to keep hope alive at least for a little while but then right on her heels comes Three O’clock.
Three O’clock has nothing but crazy for me. Three O’clock means the day’s mostly over and complete desperation takes over. The list seems to be adding at the bottom with each thing I cross from the top. Three O’clock doesn’t have a wristwatch, she has a stopwatch. Time ticks in milliseconds but moves as a monsoon and there is no way I can get ahead. The best I can hope for is riding it out. It is at this point that I lose my temper with time. Sadly, it’s not time which receives the brunt of it, it’s my family. This is where the children, as if taking their cue from the Three O’clock crazy begin to duke it out, lift their voices in unison in homage to disharmony, a cacophony of casualty and condemnation.
This is when I lose it all over the kitchen. I order everyone out and when the order is trod upon I myself storm to the bathroom because the bathroom has a lock on the door and I need a time out.
I wish I could say that time stops while I’m in there but the running of the toilet and the dripping of the faucet tells me that time is doing wind sprints in the other room. Now time is my enemy. Instead of the buddy from First Thing, we are no longer arm in arm on this world domination angle. We are thirsty adversaries and frankly Time has the advantage.
This is when I start to daydream about the night…the dead of night, the life of night. I yearn for it. I plan for it. At Night, I think, I will put the kids to bed and accomplish all I have left to do and it will be amazing. I think all through Early Evening and immerse myself in just hanging on. I think I’ll make it, I’m not 100% sure but I think I’ll make it. I rush through Early Evening and dive right into the kids’ bedtime ritual. I’m trying to pick one moment and sit in it to end my day with them well and it’s hard…because they hate their Bedtime. Maybe they hate it because I hated it when I was their age. Maybe they hate it because their Bedtime is my last promise of the day. I don’t know.
So their Bedtime is struggle and eventually kisses and books and soft breathing but we’ve wrestled and I’m tired.
Night comes and has a party planned but I am tired. I am no longer 20 years old, I am the mother of 4 smallish children and I am tired. Night has no renewed energy for me she has only the dark and the quiet. She tells me that this is a phase between us, she and I, that I will grow out of it. I trust her in that. I think she tells the truth. She says she’ll wait for me but for now, she can offer the dark and quiet not as a moment of productivity or even thinking but as a moment of…well, dark and quiet. She asks me to breathe in that to lay down my head and take her into my tired self. Night has rest for me and I take it reluctantly. I promise as my eyes close that tomorrow I will have more for her but I’m pretty sure she knows better.