Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pound the Alarm

As a child, I was an early riser.  I enjoyed the stillness of the house, as I got ready for school each day.  The older I got, the harder it was to get up.  During my college years, I worked second and third shifts so getting up an hour or two after I went to bed became out of the question.  My night owl ways continued into adulthood and the snooze button became my intimate friend.  

The only time I have consistently woken up early and without the aid of an alarm clock is on my birthday.  Each year, my body instinctively wakes up within seconds of my time of birth, 6:06am.  Most often, no one else is awake so I’m not sure why this occurs; it just does.  Often, I will fall back to sleep, reveling in the magnificence of what our brains are capable of.

When the kids were small and not yet in school, I rarely had a need to get up early and so, I relied on the cries of an infant or a sweet toddler’s voice asking me for breakfast to rouse me from slumber.  For more than the past decade, I’ve needed to get up early to get children ready for school, and poor Joe has paid the price because I am a snoozaholic.  I’ve been known to hit the snooze button so many times that my alarm clock will whimper in defeat after attempting to rouse me for more than an hour.  I set multiple alarms with multiple different ring tones at varying times to ensure that I, GET UP ALREADY!  Joe’s least favorite tones are a Tarzan yell and a lively bagpipe tune.  I’ve hidden alarms in our bedroom so that I have to drag myself out of bed to turn them off in hopes that, once I’m vertical, I’ll stay that way.  

Clearly, I have a problem.  But, in my defense, it is a very rare thing that I am late getting up.  “Wait a minute,” you say, “How can that be”?  Easy.  I have set so many alarms so early that I’ve allotted myself a multitude of snooze slaps before I subconsciously know when it’s time to wake up FOR REAL this time.

“Just go to bed earlier”, you say.  Well, when the kids were little, I/we stayed up later just so that I/we could have a little me/us time to spend with each other or to watch what I wanted on television or to read or to veg or whatever else I/we wanted to do without little people underfoot.  They are now old enough and perfectly capable of putting themselves to bed, but they don’t.  They, like Joe and me, get distracted reading or puttering around on the computer or their assorted electronic devices.  Joe and I, therefore, must be the enforcers of bedtime as good parents are wont to do.  Since their bedtimes get later and later, our “us” time is less and less.  And so, the snooze button gets used more and more, much to Joe’s dismay since he has very little trouble getting up after hitting the snooze button just once.

Bless Joe!  He is such a tolerant man to have put up with my snoozing for as long as he has.   He is also a smart man and a kind one.  As I was trying to figure out what to give up for Lent this year, he cheerfully suggested that I give up my ridiculous over-reliance on my snooze buttons.  I opted for giving up swearing, but I saw his point.  It wasn’t fair of me to continually disturb his sleep by blaring Scottish bagpipes or having a Tarzan yell break the early morning silence and then listen to me as I jerkily slap blindly at my clock or cell phone to turn them off only to repeat the process three or five minutes later, depending on which alarm was going to go off next in the sequence.

 I let out a heavy sigh and agreed with his suggestion.  I dutifully turned off my alarm clock alarms (yes, I had two), changed the alarm tone on a couple of alarms, opting for gentle morning noises that gradually increased in volume, and adjusted the time my one remaining alarm would go off.  I left my Tarzan and bagpipe ring tones on my alarms to get the kids out the door because I still get distracted even if I am vertical. 

On Ash Wednesday, I was up and out of bed before the serene morning interlude even had a chance to rev up.  Days #2 and 3 were the same.  Day #4 was a Saturday – big training days for us and usually also occupied with kids’ activities.  I got up with the alarm and that’s been the trend since then.  I’ve only had a few days when I’ve hit the snooze; that was the deal – no multiple snooze button attacks.  Even on Sundays when I get up at 0500 to get my long runs in before church, I’ve been good about getting up. 

The experts say that it takes six weeks to engrain a habit, be it exercise, eating right, or even not hitting the snooze button.  I’m halfway there but I must say, I’m pleased with the results so far.  I love being up in the morning but then, I always have.  I enjoy the solitude, the stillness of the house.  At dawn, the day holds so much promise and I love watching the sun come up.  I still struggle with the desire to hit the snooze, to snuggle in closer to Joe for a few more minutes, but I’ve learned to resist the urge and just get up.   

My body is also responding to the new regime.  I can barely keep my eyes open past ten these days.  I get the kids to bed and generally collapse.  This is worse than when they were babies.  Maybe it’s just age - The next thing you know, I’m gonna want to hit the “Blue Light Specials”! 

The things we do in the name of religion.  Ah well, it could be worse…  Inquisition, anyone?

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