I have some advice for my single female friends out there: Don't just marry someone with whom you fall in love, and want to spend the rest of your life. Don't just consider how handsome and respectful and persistent and talented he is. Don't just marry someone who makes you laugh and holds your hand when you cry.
Marry someone who likes to sleep in.
Though we met and got married fairly quickly in the grand scheme of things, I thought I had worked through all the important questions in choosing a mate. Sure, my darling husband has a few quirks, like leaving his pants on the floor right next to the laundry basket, but I have many of my own quirks that he forgives/ignores, and really he's pretty much the perfect husband for me. I'll spare you the long list of reasons why, but suffice it to say he's amazing and I love him and consider myself extremely lucky to have gone out to the bar that cold night in January 2004. After having children, it was even more apparent that I'd chosen an excellent man to be a father as well. Not only does he love his children, he plays with them, and cares for them, and can even be left alone with them (unless you leave him alone in the toy section of a store). He's a better father than I am a mother, hands down.
But he's a morning person.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a morning person too. I love my sleep, and with an appropriate 8 hours of sleep, I can happily schedule myself for a 7am yoga class and 8am college classes all week long. If I'm up late, however, I still need those 8 hours of sleep, so going to the bars until midnight means I'm not a happy camper at 6am. When I trained for marathons through the summer, necessitating 5am long runs on Saturday mornings to avoid heat, I just scaled back my Friday nights to be in bed at 8:30pm and awake and out the door with shoes laced up by 4:30am.
Then came children. You expect sleepless nights when they're newborns. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my babies slept 4-5 hours at night pretty much from the start. They quickly stretched to six hours at a time followed by another 3-4 hours. I was in heaven. I could handle this! Both of my boys then hit a sleep regression wall around five months. They were up every hour for food, but still "night" didn't end until 7am or later, so I survived. I was a zombie some days, and it seemed unmanageable at times, but I survived. And finally, when we settled into a once-a-night wake-up routine, the sweet little boys start waking up for the day at 5am.
I spent an entire summer hanging laundry in the backyard before 6am. My neighbor, leaving for a 7am shift would smile and wave as I hung another diaper on the line. I just got used to it and worked around it. We arranged coffee dates and playdates for 8am, as early as our friends could manage. I went to the YMCA for early morning aerobics classes while the boys played in playcare before any other children arrived. We scheduled doctor appointments for 8am or went jogging with friends at 7am. I had no qualms about signing Pete up for school, even though we must leave the house by 7:45am to get there. Then, they miraculously started sleeping a little later. 6:30am was a pretty standard wake-up, and I counted myself lucky if we made it to the Today Show at 7am before hearing the wails indicating that someone was awake.
I must admit, now that I'm pregnant, I could use a little more than eight hours of sleep, but even eight hours is unattainable these days. The boys are clearly a mix of Ryan (up at the ass crack of dawn) and me (once I'm up, I'm up, there's no rolling over and going back to sleep). So now that they've reverted back to pre-5am wake-ups I'm at my wit's end trying to find a routine that works. I've spent the last few mornings from 5am-7am trying to cajole them back into sleeping, telling them it's still sleeping time, nursing Chester in an attempt to lull him back to sleep, letting them sleep in my bed, even yelling at them that it's still nighttime. Nothing works. Nothing.
I know of children who routinely have to be WOKEN to go to school, or get to a playdate on time. My nephew is one who can sleep 8pm-9am and he's the same age as Chester! Our time to venture out of the house is 8am-noon and they're just getting rolling for 11am playdates at the pool! These children, who can be just as frustrating to a mom needing to schedule morning appointments, or make it to work on time, just have a different sleep cycle than mine. There are pros and cons to both early birds and late sleepers.
The moral of this sad, sleep-muddled and probably baffling and poorly written story is to consider your partner's natural circadian rhythms before saying I do and consenting to years of sleep deprivation when your children take after your partner's sleeping habits. I don't care how smart, funny and handsome he is, you need to ask some important questions before you take him home from the bar.