Let Sleeping Wives Lie

My husband is a morning person. I am not.

I take a long time to wake up. After my alarm goes off, I listen to NPR for a while, check the email on my phone, and maybe play a game or two of solitaire. I might see if there is a good photo essay on Flavorwire, or  scan the headlines on CNN.

I could get up and get some work done, but I don’t. I like to linger. At some point early in the lingering process, my husband will come in, having finished his run. He’s disturbingly, annoyingly awake. My husband doesn’t do perky, but when he comes in, he’s all too happy to announce that he just ran five miles.

It’s dark out. Really dark out. He runs with a headlamp. That takes some major dedication. He says it’s very quiet. The idea of that kind of peacefulness is compelling, but then I feel the cool sheets, think “whatever,” and tee up another game of solitaire. I’m still there when my husband leaves for work. He laughs when he kisses me goodbye.

I finally get up when I have to roust my son out of bed for school. He’s even worse than I am.

If I could, I’d stay up late at night, and get up mid-morning. When I was young and single and didn’t need much sleep, I got a lot done after 10 p.m.  When my son was a baby, we had deep, meaningful thought exchanges in the wee hours. The rest of the world, however, doesn’t work that way.

I understand why my husband loves getting up early. He beats the traffic, which around D.C. is no small deal. The toll road hasn’t gone HOV only, and the school buses aren’t out yet. He gets a couple of hours of uninterrupted work time, which I know he treasures. When I’m up early, I have time to write this blog, start a load of laundry, get to the early sculpt class at the gym.

It’s all great, in theory. In practice, it means we go to bed at 10:00 p.m. I miss those late hours. They felt like my secret. My husband tells me that it’s the same thing in the early morning, or it would be, if I’d get out of bed. It’s not the same though, since nobody really wants to claim 4:30 a.m. 1:00 a.m. is dangerous, forbidden, seductive time. 4:30 is lunatic, workaholic, I-don’t-have-a-life time.

I wonder what it will be like when my son goes to college.  How late will I sleep when I don’t have to get him out the door every morning? I suspect I’ll keep the same schedule, more or less. My husband says I’ll get used to it, that studies show as we age we need less sleep. We’ve been married over twenty years, so you think he’d have learned that the studies show that as he ages he needs less sleep.

“We” is not “I,”  pal. Turn the lights off and shut the door on your way out, and I’ll see you when you get home.

Words by J. B. Everett

 Photograph by Sasha Wolff © 2007 Creative Commons

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6 comments on “Let Sleeping Wives Lie

  1. Timing is such a crucial thing. Everyone has their preference and out of all of the interesting parts of living with another person, this is probably the toughest nut to crack. I wish you luck in your endeavor of finding those magical hours wherever they may be 🙂

  2. Áine Warren says:

    I always like the idea of getting up early, but my body doesn’t. And for me, early is around dawn in winter and well after it in summer – getting up in the dark just seems horrific to me, I did too much of that when I was in school! So I understand what you mean. I don’t really tend to be very productive after 9pm but going to sleep before midnight just upsets me – makes me feel like I don’t have a life!

  3. Ha, having figureskated for 14 years, up and on the ice by 5:30am, having raised three demanding morning children and ferried them all over the place for practice this and school trip that, I think I’ve put my time in and earned my right to be left alone in the mornings. Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my tea and we’ll be just fine. 🙂

  4. angelpoint says:

    I’m 70 and still need 8 hours of sleep. I’m ready for bed by 10:00pm However, my dog as of late is determined to bark at 4:00am to go out! Eeek! I have to trudge down the stairs and let her out and by the time she comes back in, I’m wide awake. I don’t want to be awake at 4:15am. I want to sleep till 7:00am.

  5. I have to leave for work before 6:30 for a 7:30 a.m. start. My husband wakes up and leaves even earlier, so I’m up at 5 a.m. One the days that I work. Other days I “sleep in” until 7.

  6. hiyacynthia says:

    I relate to this post! I feel like my whole purpose in life is to get others in this house up and going. When they’re gone, I’ll stay up until 1 a.m. and sleep until 10 a.m. I promise.

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