My thirties were full of revelations: I hate to run. I don’t care if people think we are weird. I really love coffee. And the one that might have been the most revolutionary: I am NOT a morning person. I will never be one. And I’m okay with that.
My journey to this self-awareness began in my twenties. Of course, I was always hard to get out of bed as a teen, but aren’t all teenagers? And yes, I tried to schedule my classes in college as late as possible, but isn’t that normal? It wasn’t until my first year of teaching elementary school, when I had to be at school, dressed and functional by 7:15 that I realized I might have a problem.
“You’ll get used to it!” They said. “One day you won’t even need to set an alarm!” They said. They were wrong.
I taught public school for 8 years and never ONCE did I wake up without an alarm. My favorite job, hands down, was when I taught in Louisville, KY. And yes, the faculty was great and I really loved my students. But also, school didn’t start until 9:00! And even so, I had to set an alarm to get there on time.
Once I entered motherhood, sleep deprivation became my normal (can I get an amen?). I would be woken up by children, sometimes crying, sometimes talking, sometimes poking me in the forehead and asking in scary morning voices, “What can I eat? Can I watch a show?” I would mumble incoherently and try to find caffeine so that words and sentences would be possible.
At different times in the past 20 years, I have tried to become a morning person. I have gradually set my alarm earlier and earlier to try and “reset my circadian rhythm”. I have woken up early to exercise, pray, read, have “me” time. And I have failed miserably.
Finally, at around the age of 35, my husband looked at me and said, “Babe, why are you doing this? You’re miserable. Just sleep later!” After I probably hit him and cried and said, “I’m not tired! You’re tired!,” I realized he was right. I WAS miserable. Which meant everyone in my house was miserable. The madness needed to end.
First, I had to realize that I was NOT a bad mom because I didn’t wake up early and do a 30-minute devotion or run 5 miles before my kids woke up. I was NOT a bad mom because I didn’t greet my children with homemade almond-flour pancakes and fresh squeezed OJ each morning. Jesus didn’t love me any less because I couldn’t say words until after coffee. This was me, and it was okay.
Now, I still set an alarm, but it is for MUCH later than back in the day. When I tell people one of the reasons we homeschool is so I don’t have to get kids on the bus at 7:15 am, I’m being serious. My kids have learned to fix themselves cereal, yogurt, and can even scramble eggs because they know breakfast is NOT my thing. Let me be clear here- if waking up early IS your thing- more power to you! But we all have different strengths and weaknesses. And being coherent, much less cheerful, pre-dawn is NOT my strength. And I’m old enough to own that now.