It started when I was little, the push-back against bedtime. I didn’t want to miss out on anything. I didn’t understand why I was the only one going to bed. Mom was the one who remained firm in getting me to bed at a certain time. Daddy was a bit more flexible. I distinctly remember one time when Mom was out for the evening at a meeting, I must have been about five or six years old. Mom came home, and there I was sitting with Daddy in his big chair in the living room. In his defense, I was in my pajamas, my teeth brushed, he was reading me a story. Or were we watching tv? I don’t remember that detail. Mom wasn’t happy, and off to bed, I went.
I had all the usual tactics every child learns to delay the unavoidable. Needing a drink, have to use the bathroom, hunger, and the best was the bedtime story. “Please, just one more…book, page, chapter…”
When I learned to read on my own, getting me into bed was much easier. Getting me to turn out my light and go to sleep became the next challenge for my parents. I can still hear them, “Turn out that light.” My bedroom was the converted attic, at the top of a narrow and steep staircase. My parents would stand at the bottom of the stairs and see if my light was on or not.
When I learned the flashlight under the blanket trick it made the nightly battle much easier.
Into my teen years, this trait continued. After the passing of my Father, Mom sold the house in Ontario and moved us across the country to Victoria. Apartment living became the norm, and I no longer had the stairs of invisibility to hide my nightly reading habits. Getting me to turn out my light at a decent hour, then getting me up in time for school was a struggle for my Mom all through my school years.
When I moved out on my own, I had a series of jobs that adapted well to my night-owl persona. Shift work was something I thrived in. Eventually, I found my way to the day job lifestyle and I had to adjust even more. The adjustment didn’t come with a change of my sleep pattern however but in my ability to function on less sleep during the week, and then using the weekends to sleep in.
In the last year, I have been attempting to be less of a night owl and more of a morning person. The good side of this is I am more rested in the morning. The bad side is my ability to focus in the morning is still not the same as it is at night. I have always been more creative at night, more productive in daily tasks, and clearer of thought. I have incorporated exercise into my morning routine which helps. When I was working at a day job, I cycled to work, now that I am home I find if I can get a walk in first thing my juices get moving and my productivity level increases. This productivity extends to daily tasks, not only my creative endeavours. I still go to bed at night, with ideas percolating, my hands itching for my keyboard or pen and paper. A notebook and pen sit on my nightstand next to my stack of reading material. If ideas strike I write down, afraid it will be lost on my journey through the land of Nod.
Now, in my mid-fifties, I find myself once again living with my mother as her caregiver. When old habits for me keep my light on late, she still clings to her maternal role and says “you should turn your light out and go to sleep.”
And of course, I still answer, “Yes, Mom.”