What time counts as ‘early morning’ in your family? Four am? Five? What time do you finally admit defeat and kick the whole shebang off? For me, early is anytime before five. Once you’re past five then it’s arguably morning. It’s the time that postmen get up. TV presenters. Teachers. Those annoying women who hit the gym for an hour before they chow down their homemade spelt and chia seed porridge.
But whether it’s a weekend or not also makes a difference. Last Sunday I was in the kind of deep sleep that is so very precious. The wrinkles around my eyes were slowly unfurling. Then a small person started shouting. I was suddenly very awake. I checked the clock. Five is not great for a Sunday. It’s the time when night clubbers crawl into their beds. But toddlers don’t have a proper education on all things time related. It’s an abstract concept represented by pretty blue stars on a clock their parents bought them TO TEACH THEM ABOUT THE FACT IT IS STILL NIGHT TIME RIGHT NOW.
‘It’s the middle of the night,’ I wailed as I stumbled into my daughter’s room.
A rabbit had been misplaced. She was hungry. I thought I’d try the ‘middle of the night’ trick a few more times but the light seeping in under the curtains was telling a different story. I pointed to her ‘Gro-clock’ which had the eerie, blue colour that is supposed to hypnotise your child into thinking it’s night. She looked at me with suspicion in her very awake eyes. I carried her through to our bedroom.
If I could just eek it out till six then we’d go downstairs. It’s silly how desperate you can be to lie down again when you’ve just woken up. My daughter gave me a blow-by-blow account of what the cat was doing (basically ignoring her). I had that terrible, scratchy feeling in my eyes that I knew would stick around. It was twenty minutes past five. The morning stretched on into infinity.
These early-rise-days are very long. There are some when we’ve eaten breakfast, watched an hour of TV, stuck Peppa Pig stickers all over the oven and it’s still only six thirty. Before I went back to work, my friends would laugh when I told them we were in the park most days by eight. The only solution to the whole messed up, scratchy-eyed clock thing is to move the whole shebang earlier (lunch at eleven, tea at three, hopefully bed by five). I am so ENVIOUS of friends who have children who sleep late. I look at them with my tongue hanging out. What they sleep till eight? NINE? What voodoo is this? Yes I know you kept them up late and they had a lovely lie in. Well I’ve tried that. Didn’t work. I’m off to Lidl because it opens at eight and we can waste some time looking at camping equipment we don’t need.
My eyes are still scratchy and I feel an underlying grumpiness that no amount of positive Instagram affirmations will shift. The cat turns onto its back and stretches. It will sleep all day without a care in the world. I pull on my dressing gown. The kettle goes on. Next the TV. The rhythm of the morning begins. The night-clubbers smile and remember the crazy night they’ve left behind.
It’s Sunday and it’s actually still the middle of the night.