Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The early bird gets to make the coffee

I'm up early again. This strange phenomenon has been occurring for over two weeks. For anyone who's known me for awhile (which would be anyone who's reading this) this is a telling statement. I don't have to explain what's strange and unusual about it. It's like saying the sun decided to rise in the northern sky today. Or chipmunks starting sprouting feathers. Or George W started using three syllable words and pronouncing them correctly. It's atypical enough to make one wonder if the world as we know it is starting to unravel.

It's all Rosie's fault. I should have thought about the consequences of naming a dog Rosie. Rosie, as in the sky is rosie at the crack of dawn. Obviously it's all my fault that Rosie is a "morning person". Dawn is Rosie's favorite time of day. She wakes up happy. Hours of sleep recharging her tiny body, she's ready to be on the move and she assumes I too want to take advantage of this amazing new day. My alarm clock now pulls on my necklace, crawls back and forth over my face, and licks and bites my ears. One simply can't sleep through that sort of frenzied happiness that the sun has risen again.

So I get up. And stay up. I take Rosie outside to pee. I feed and water her, sitting nearby as she eats, squirt bottle armed, to keep away the bevy of cats that think Rosie's being fed cat cavier compared to the fisherman's chum we toss in their food bowls. Then I sit on the couch, knock the ottaman away so Rosie can't climb up, and pull up my feet so they aren't mistaken for dangerous intruders in need of attack. This is her favorite time to growl and snap at imaginary fiends and teensy floating bits of dust (which are probably not so teensy from her one or two pound point of view). Lacking fiends, floating or otherwise, she happily substitutes fingers, toes, newspapers, cat tails, pink flip flops (which she has now punctured with enough holes to make the soles air conditioned. Thank you Rosie).

Sometimes I fall over sideways against a throw pillow and get another fifteen minutes or so of sleep, while having vague flashbacks of early mornings when my six foot tall sons were still babes. Mostly this leads to me realizing I'm no longer that young and flexible in my habits. Sometimes I open up an eye or two and find some entertainment in her antics. She looks like nothing more then a remote control car driven by the whims of a maniacal toddler. She pops and twirls, boxes the air with her thimble sized paws, runs rings around the cats while growling ferociously. Sometimes I fish the remote control out of the couch cushions and turn on the television. Eventually the cells in my body give up resisting vertical reality and I get up and go make the first pot of coffee.

It's hard to believe, I know this, but I wasn't always a creature of the night. When my children were young, I was always up at the crack of dawn just like I have been forced to be these last few weeks since I was gifted with this chia pet sized child. I can remember mornings when, up for what seemed like hours, I'd bundle up a toddler or two from the morning dew and head out for a bagel and coffee, a walk to the duck pond in the town square, or an errand or two. We'd arrive downtown only to discover that the sidewalks were still roled up, the shops were still sleepy-eyed, "Closed' signs still not flipped to 'Open', traffic only bread trucks and the occasional carpenter off to some job before the day warmed up. The still lingering dew should have been a clue that it was still pre-day. I said I was awake before dawn in those early mothering days, I didn't say I was particularly coherent.

When I lived in the mountains of San Diego nine years ago, we had no town, no television, no internet. After the sun went down, so did most of our activity options (except star gazing, which was "out of this world"). So for most of the year we lived out in the wilds, I took to going to bed early and getting up when the skies lightened just enough to silhouette the rock and agave covered hillsides. I'd slip into jeans and t-shirt and head straight to the gardens,where I'd putter for hours until the sky was bright and the earth started to reflect back the daily desert temperature heat.

And let's not forget that decade plus of early mornings spent waking to the buzz of the alarm clock, dragging reluctant kids from their beds (except Joshua, the aberrant early riser of the bunch), tossing breakfast on the table, searching for lost backpacks and permission slips, before grabbing up a baby and dashing out the door in time to get four elementary aged children to three different schools in two different directions all before the bells rang. Does this seem somewhat rat-in-a-maze Pavlovian to you? Yeah, me too. Okay, let's go ahead and forget those years.

Even in recent years, camping or traveling has me up early, certain there won't be enough hours in the day without an early start to things. I'm the one flipping on hotel lights or banging around the campsite trying to get the campstove lit, while the rest of the family groan and roll deeper into their bedspreads or sleeping bags.

There are some advantages to being up early again. I'm up before the family. Actually I've always been up before the family, just now I'm up practically half a day before them. This gives me time to read my e-mail, take a shower without waiting in line, think through and plan what I want to do for the day. (Of course this doesn't guarantee I'll actually get to follow my plan. Once everyone else is up, all bets are off.) I've discovered there are garden and quilting shows on TV in the morning, which leads me to believe that other people might have actually been getting up early to watch them for years. I've got more hours in the day to do things like hang laundry before the sun sets again and run errands before the stores are about to close. I'm on a "normal" schedule that matches other "normal" people's schedules for eating, phone calls, making appointments. It's like traveling to a new country, seeing new cultural sites and activities, complete with jet lag but without the cost of plane tickets or the trouble of getting a passport.

Of course the main disadvantage is that I'm not on the same schedule as the rest of my family. Hubby still works nights. The kids are still teenagers, which means they are still allergic to early morning air not not filtered through their bedcovers. In the mornings I can't use my sewing machine, which is in Kim's room. I can't grab a passing family member and ask for help with a chore. I can't listen to loud music or start a project that would make too much noise. And I don't get to sleep in bed with my husband for more then an hour or two each night, er, morning. And just because now I'm ready to climb into bed before the evening news shows begin their nightly soundbites, it doesn't mean the rest of the household is ready to retire then. Even though I'm now up with the birdies, I'm still required to keep up with the night owls. Lack of sleep is what is making this whole sudden schedule shift less then fun.

Hopefully this is a temporary situation. In a month, hubby is going to be able to bid for a day or swing shift position after a decade of working nights. I'm not even gonna attempt to get two teenagers to go to bed early through a summer, but next year William will be forced to assume a normal life when he tries public school for the very first time. So it's only a matter of time before my life would have turned topsy turvy anyhow. (or would that be turvy topsy?) I'm trying not to begrudge having to get a jumpstart on those changes before the rest of the family is forced to join me. Except Rosie, who like any young child, now that she's got me up, dressed, and awake, has crawled back to bed for a nap.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jen V said...

I'm glad you took the leap and started a blog. Your writing is always a joy to read. This post almost romanticizes the need to keep a normal schedule. Though I think I'd still jump at the chance to change mine around given the opportunity. Where is that winning lottery ticket anyway?

~Ariendel

12:11 PM  
Blogger :-D eirdre said...

Well... this explains everything!

1:05 PM  
Blogger Joyce said...

All this talk about being up early, the time stamp is off, right? You don't mean 9:25 AM is early, right? It's 5:43 AM where I sam, the sky is just starting to get light.... ;-)

2:44 AM  
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