My name is Stephanie Van Sandt, and I am a morning person.
Well, as much of a morning person as one is capable of being when one regularly finds herself working until 1am. In fact, my inconsistent and oddball work schedule often forces me to be an unwilling night owl, working until late into the night and sleeping well into the next day. But give me a couple of days off, and I’ll revert right back to my early morning tendencies, going to bed around midnight and waking up at 7 or 8am.
(I realize that for many, waking at those hours means that you got to sleep in, but trust me, in our house, that waking hour makes me the early bird. Reason #485 why we’re not having kids.)
This is Kyle Van Sandt, and he is a hardcore night owl.
Kyle doesn’t really hit his mental stride until about 10pm, which is also the time he preferred to start papers in college and the time at which he likes to start projects like rearranging our furniture (argh) now. Given his druthers, he’ll go completely feral, staying up until 3 or 4am and sleeping until well into the afternoon.
As you can see, Kyle and I are geared completely differently. I can stay up (for me) super late and he can get up (for him) freakishly early, and given a reason, we often do. But it’s not our natural states, and it’s not how we prefer to frame our days.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, used to drive me absolutely batshit crazy. Up the fucking wall. I would get up at 7 or 8am on a day off and enjoy a leisurely coffee and breakfast, accompanied by either the newspaper or morning tv. I’d stretch this out until 9 or 10am, at which point I was ready to start my day. And this is where things started to go south. Sometimes I’d shower and just go about my day while Kyle remained blissfully unconscious until afternoon, when he’d join me for lunch. And those days were fine.
But those days were also rare. More often, I wanted to start my day with an activity that inherently included Kyle, like going to the gym or grocery shopping. So I couldn’t really start my day until Kyle woke up and got moving. And sure, I could go wake him, but that was a tricky business that often backfired. See, Kyle is a master of the snooze. He can not only hold an entire conversation without becoming fully conscious, but he can instantly fall back asleep as soon as the conversation ends. So if I went into the bedroom and gently tried to wake him with sweet words and kisses, he would temporarily appear to respond, only to fall back asleep as soon as I left the room and have no later memory of the exchange. Which meant that I could gently wake him five or six times and accomplish nothing, except giving me ample time to stew in my resentment towards him for metaphorically keeping me a prisoner at home with his sloth. (Aided by my unfortunate flair for the overdramatic.)
Finally, sometime around noon, my resentment would reach the necessary strength to turn me into a level 10 bitch, and I’d storm into the bedroom and start screeching. This would jar Kyle awake, who (having no memory of any of my previous tender attempts to wake him) would be bewildered as to why I was being such a mega-bitch when all he’d been doing was sleeping. He’d get up and shower, we’d eat lunch, and sometime around 2pm we’d start our day, already pissed at each other.
This happened pretty much every time we had a day off, and it wasn’t fun. I felt resentful and he felt attacked, and all because we couldn’t comprehend or respect each other’s inherent internal clock.
But since we moved from our shit shack apartment to our lovely new house, we haven’t had the morning fight once. And as much as I’m kind-of ashamed to admit it, I think most of the change was mine. At first I let him sleep late simply because we were working a metric ass-ton and I knew he was exhausted, but even with plenty of rest behind him, I just haven’t felt compelled to rouse him. I still get up early, still enjoy my breakfast and the paper, but now I’m able to go about my day on my own, without worrying whether or not Kyle’s involved.
(And in the spirit of fairness, Kyle has also made some welcome changes. On the occasions that we do make plans for the day, he’s made some amazing strides towards actually getting up at a reasonable time. Sure, he has to drag himself up, and he’s not going to be anything resembling chipper until he’s had at least two cups of coffee. We’re probably also not going anywhere before about 10am. But he’s trying, and that means a lot to me.)
Since abandoning my quest to re-mold Kyle into an early bird, I’ve come to enjoy and cherish those mornings as time for myself. In our old apartment, which was dingy and felt closed in and dark, there wasn’t much to do within those walls besides watch tv, dink around on the internet, and cook, so once I’d exhausted those options I felt trapped. But our new house isn’t any of those things. It’s clean and bright and open, and I love my mornings sitting in the living room, quietly enjoying the sunshine and my breakfast. After breakfast but before Kyle wakes up, that’s my time for me, time to do whatever I want. I can indulge my compulsion to clean, I can blog, I can bake, I can paint my nails, I can work on a project at my workbench, or I can simply lounge on the couch and do crossword puzzles–anything that makes me happy. That time is just for me, and I know that Kyle treasures the night for the same reason. There’s no obligation, no worrying about what the other person is up to; just each of us doing our own thing.
The nights are Kyle’s and the days are ours, but the mornings, they are mine.