Note: This is part of a recurring series of posts I’m calling The Year of Living Intentionally. (Unofficially, I’m calling it That Time Leah Decided to Get Her Shit Together.) You’ll be able to access all the posts here. I hope you’ll join me on the adventure.
Today was the day I decided to go back to getting up by five a.m. like a crazy person (or like the Japanese author Haruki Murakami, who wrote the memoir This is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. See, Murakami says that he rises every morning at four a.m., because the best work is the work done first thing in the day*).
*This is why you shouldn’t read, kids. It gives you ideas.
But it’s my year of living intentionally, and this little part right here will be key to getting it right. So last night, I was in bed by nine-thirty in preparation. That part was kind of lovely.
During the school year, we wake the kids at six-thirty, so getting up by five (like a crazy person and/or famous author) allows me that time in the morning to get a jumpstart: on the writing, or on exercising in the hot weather, but mostly just on my day. When I don’t get up early, I’m scrambling, and most of the morning feels like I’m just trying to catch up. It’s the curse of the person without an office or classroom to be in bright and early. Too much freedom allows for too much…freedom. And nothing gets accomplished when a person fools herself into thinking she has such room to breathe. I got so much writing done when I used to get up before dawn. And before that, I was the most dedicated runner when I made sure I was out the door in my running shoes by six a.m. each day. Things like that.
(Hindsight just remembers the lessons, though. Hindsight often forgets how very, very early five o’clock a.m. actually is.)
But this first morning went well. I got some writing done (thanks to a friend who handed me my breakthrough on Book #3 last week while our kids played in her backyard) and was able to shower quickly while David got the kids their breakfast. I took them to school, and was able to get more writing finished before a dentist appointment (cavity? What cavity? I’m a WRITER). I was so peppy and happy, I even got in a quick run (meaning, the time spent was quick. The running itself was as slow as usual) around Cian’s school before I picked him up at eleven. But then, of course, the wall hit. I passed out for twenty minutes before I’d even gotten lunch together, and that was the beginning of the end:
- By 1 p.m., I was taking my second shower of the day just to wake up.
- By 2 p.m., my contacts had started to feel like little tiny disks of aluminum foil scraping at my irises.
- By 4:00, I was yelling at Saoirse in the car on the way home from the grocery store.
- By 4:50, I had poured a glass of wine. Please don’t judge me. It was one glass. And it was technically almost five o’clock.
- By 5:30, I was shoving Wegmans takeout at everybody and snapping at anyone who came within two feet of me. Saoirse and I were still going at it.
- By 6 p.m., David was herding all the kids out the door to Quinlan’s soccer practice, and Quinlan was saying, “Why don’t we ever go as a family, Mom? Why don’t you come when Daddy takes us?” My plan at five a.m. was to get the work finished so I could spend time with my kids, but at six, when I was offered a break, I took it. It’s so much like when your children were teeny-tiny babies: when they slept too long, you found yourself standing over the crib, willing them to wake because you were so anxious to play with them again, but as soon as they were awake too long and fussy, all you wanted was for them to just bleeping fall sleep. It’s the strangest cycle of parenthood. It’s overstimulation overshadowed by massive love, and vice versa.
And it’s probably not the best idea to juggle either one of them when you were up before the sun for the first time, on purpose. See, five a.m. comes early, obviously. But in my experience, it’s the five p.m. hour I have to be rested for.