Before a young couple walks down the aisle, they should be asked questions like, “When you wake up, do you pop out of bed like a Jack-in-the-box or slowly ooze out of it like hot lava creeping towards a village?” “Do you wake up before the alarm or hit snooze 14 times in an attempt to trick your mind into thinking you are beating the system?” “Do you like the bedroom to be warm enough to raise lizards, or do you prefer frost on the inside of your windows?”
As a wide-eyed girl, I never considered this deep subject when choosing my mate, because I was more concerned with him being cute and a good kisser. I didn’t “dream” that I, a night owl, would be spending the rest of my life with an early bird.
It didn’t take long after marrying my hubby that I figured out he was not just an early-riser, but he was the guy who could be responsible for waking the rooster. He is the man who throws the covers back like a matador ready to take on a bull before the alarm even goes off. He wakes up laser focused and full of potential.
I am “anti” all of that. My blanket is used less like a bullfighter and more like a vampire trying to hide from the morning light. And rather than sharp and alert, I wake up like I am hung over, minus the drinking. Hair a mess, cotton mouth, confused as to what day it is or where I am, or as my son likes to say, “You went to sleep completely fine and woke up with dementia!” If I’m telling the truth, if you want to see me walk into walls, get me up at 5 a.m.
As a good wife, I tried to follow his lead and join the “bright-side, morning people,” but it was always the same scene:
I laid there, fidgeting. I crawled under the blankets and curled up tightly, as if I was a caterpillar preparing for metamorphosis. Five seconds later, I would get hot and throw the blankets off of my body as if they were on fire. Not sure why it required such a severe reaction.
I would lay there, uncovered for about 20 seconds, then my body temperature would drop. I would sit up and feel around for the coverings I tossed moments before. I’d find a piece of material and give it a tug and inevitably pull all the blankets from my tranquil husband.
I’d tuck him back in, then struggle to find a corner to call my own.
I’d cover back up, but this time, I’d stick one leg out from under the blanket in an attempt to achieve the perfect temp. Satisfied, I’d close my eyes. That is when my brain decided it’s time to solve the world’s problems.
I recreated this scenario multiple times until I finally embraced our differences and let our circadian rhythms direct us. I was determined to not let sleep deprivation destroy us, and once I looked deeper with my blurry, tired eyes, I found positives that outweighed our negatives.
One of the positives was that our differing sleep shifts offer great home protection because there is not a lot of time that someone is not awake.
The hubby gets up before the sun and handles things like cleaning snowy sidewalks before anyone leaves the house and “checks the perimeter” by opening all of the blinds. He also checks the coffee maker, TV and occasionally the washer.
My job as the “second-shift security supervisor” is to answer any late-night calls and listen for noises. If I hear anything suspicious, I elbow my hubby until he becomes conscious. I then inform him in a panicked whisper, “I think there is a criminal in the house, here to kill us all and steal all of our stuff.” (I have been wrong every time, but at least we are well rehearsed in case of a true emergency.)
Added bonuses of differing “rise and shines” are: I never have to get up early to let the dogs out, I can check his pulse if he hasn’t moved in a while, and he is already so sound asleep when I climb into bed, I can stick my cold feet under him and he doesn’t jump up like a scared cat. We are living proof that an early bird and a night owl can build a beautiful nest and happily be “birds of a feather that stick together.”