4 AM rising / A day at home

I keep waking up at 4 to 4:30 AM and don’t go back to sleep, just lie there. I’m not in distress or feeling anxiety, I’m just awake. I try going back to sleep, but it rarely happens…unless I force myself to stay in bed to perhaps catch one more hour. In that scenario, I wake up late, S wakes up late, we are both grouchy and hungry and have a hard time getting the day rolling. I’ve been trying to get up at 5:30 or 5:45 recently, to have some time to myself in the morning, but it seems so silly to lie there not sleeping for an hour and a half after my 4 AM waking. So I am thinking I might just start getting out of bed at 4. I go to bed around 10. So that’s 6 hours of sleep. 6 hours sleep = 4 sleep cycles (90 minutes each sleep cycle). Conflicting information on the internet about whether or not six hours is enough, ranging from “you will have a longer, healthier life if you sleep 5 to 6.5 hours” to “if you think you are okay on 6 hours of sleep, that’s just your body/brain fooling yourself into thinking that, and it is really bad for you to not get 7 to 9 hours.” Any thoughts, experiences, information concerning this issue?

I definitely feel better throughout the day when I rise early. This is a big change. I’m 43, so perhaps my body is entering a new phase?

I love getting ahead of the curve, having time to write (like right now), having time to take a hot shower and drink coffee all by myself. When I go into S’s room, I am ready for him.

I am not ready for him when I get up at the same time as he does—it’s so difficult to get the day going, because he needs me to be close to him in the mornings, and I need to brush my teeth, make coffee, think, plan, etc. It’s not possible to think clearly when I get up at the same time as he does. He talks, he wants, he needs, he negotiates, he plays, he is contrary, he is joking, he makes sure he is the center of my attention whenever possible. Every once in a while, he will be so chill that the day flows wonderfully even when I wake up later/with him, but oftentimes I end up in this chaotic swirl, trying to plan the day, get us both clean, ready, fed, and definitely feeling behind the curve.

I talk to a lot of parents who put their kids in front of cartoons first thing in the morning so that they can attend to getting ready for the day. I don’t judge because I don’t know what it is like in their homes. Perhaps they have very early risers, and I can’t imagine how tough that would be. But S is not an early riser. He is a solid sleeper, and he doesn’t get up on his own incredibly early. (The only time he gets up super early on his own is when he goes to bed super late! Those 90-minute sleep cycles are no joke. Sleep begets sleep with S for sure.) So I am in the fortunate position of it being not impossible to rise earlier than he does to get things and myself—my thoughts, my needs—in a bit of order before he enters the picture. I have to take advantage of it.

I do want to mention Friday, however, and the maturity S displayed, when it came to his needs, because it was surprising and so touching to me…

I kept trying to get us out the door to do something, and S kept telling me, “Later, Mommy, I’m not ready.” He wanted to stay home and just be with me, just play. I listened, and I realized that there was no reason we had to get out the door and do something. Finally I decided to stop asking him and just stay home. After all, we’d been to parks, museums, etc., recently.

S and I need to do very little to be happy, to be learning, enjoying. We don’t have to go to a museum, a park, a music class, a swim class. But I forget this sometimes. When I see the neighbor kids going off to swim class on a Saturday morning, or hear about pretty much every toddler I know being in a music or gym class, I worry that I am not giving him enough opportunities to learn and grow…and then I check myself. He is two and a half. There is plenty of time for classes. We went to Gymboree pretty regularly when he was an infant, and for a couple of seasons, we went to Music Together classes here, but I don’t have him in anything now. Part of it is the expense, but the other part of it is just that feeling of having to be somewhere at a particular time and day. Why force that right now? Why not enjoy this time together, enjoy playing crazy games at our new home? Soon enough, he’ll be in preschool for three hours, three days a week.

So Friday turned into this absolutely lovely day at home. I was so freaking tired at the end of it, but happily. We played, played, played. But S also helped me cook jambalaya (he taste-tested and poured the oil in the pan). At one point while I was cooking, he went out back with his book and contentedly read by himself at his little table. It sort of broke my heart to see him reading out there by himself—I wasn’t sad, just realizing how much older and more mature he is now. Turning the pages, commenting quietly to himself, laughing at a picture, totally unaware I was watching him through the window.

And then he was inspired to go into the back yard and dance by himself. He was just strutting, pointing his arms this way and that, doing little jogs, punching the air like he sees his dad do when his dad is practicing martial arts. Oh my goodness. I was so happy for him. Enjoying his own company. Doing his own thing.

We read. We must read five to ten books a day. (Yesterday, I allowed him to watch a little something on TV in the afternoon and when I asked if he was ready for me to turn it off, he nodded and said, “Let’s read, Mommy!” Okay, totally proud.) At one point, we were on our big king-sized bed with all of the stuffed animals around, reading book after book. And then we pretended that one of the pillows was a campfire. I ran downstairs to get marshmallows and we put them on our fingers, to roast them over the pillow-campfire.

Then we went into the office/art/music room and I drew shapes on paper, and he colored them in with various colors. I wish I could remember the details of what we said—after that time together, I was absolutely dying to write down our conversations, but I never found the time. And now I forget. All I remember is the feeling of extraordinary closeness and wonder. Wonder at how much he is changing and learning each day.

He ended up taking his books and reading them to a semi-circle of his stuffed animals. “See the picture here baby kitty? You love it?” Ha!

The rest of the details of that day are gone like the wind, but what can you do but try to hold onto the little bits that stay…


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