Getting up early has always been a big deal in my family. I don’t remember ever getting up in the dark wintry months before Dad made a fire or before Mom had fed the chickens or milked the goats. I mean, except for Christmas mornings, when Mom and Dad were always a bit sluggish—which was obviously just to tease us, since we had to do the chores, eat breakfast, and read the Christmas story before any unwrapping of presents. I’m sure it had nothing to do with staying up late to wrap presents or stuff stockings.
Anyway, Mom used to wake us up to begin our chores and schoolwork by grinding wheat or by singing and whistling things like “Rise and shine and give God the glory!” or “Up at ‘em!” and turning lights on. (Side note: I thought “Up and at ‘em” was “Up and Adam” for most of my life.) Sleeping until 8am on Saturdays often earned us a stern look from Dad and an exasperated, “You’re burning daylight!”
Some of the things I learned growing up in this environment:
1. Wheat grinders make a surprisingly loud and shrill sound for their
2. Unplugging your light at night instead of flipping the switch will only work once before Mom catches on. And it’s kind of like hiding the spanking stick—you’ll regret it.
3. Pretending to be sick doesn’t work when you’re homeschooled.
All of this is simply to say that my parents were and are firm believers in rising early. So much so that I feel a little like I’ve given up on life if I sleep past nine. If/when this happens, I feel like I may as well stop showering and wear sweatpants and/or no bra in public. (North Idaho doesn’t count as “public” so I’m claiming I’ve never done this).
I remember getting up at 4:30am one morning when I was very young, simply because I wanted Mom and Dad’s approval and was excited about whatever we were going to be doing that day. I was probably four or five years old and I had myself all dressed and was sitting on the couch (nodding off) when they got up and were confused and entertained by my efforts. Of course, my siblings made me feel like a suck-up (which I was), but I was still pleased with myself. All through my homeschooled elementary years, I rose early and finished my homework by noon or one or two o’clock, which meant I could play in the woods for a full afternoon before it got dark.
When I was in high school, I started hating mornings. Probably because I stayed up so late reading books of Aaron’s I’d hidden under my bed so that he didn’t know I’d stolen them from him (in order to read them before he did). My hatred of mornings continued into my freshman year of college, where I routinely stayed up until 3-4am just because I could. During this time, I heaped insults on morning people, especially the ones who were chipper and happy before they’d even had coffee or Nutella. Over breaks when I visited home again, I’d be especially annoyed with Aaron, who would not only rise early, but also have chopped some kindling, made coffee, and in general proved to our parents that he was the best child ever. Douche.
All of this changed again when I worked for the Forest Service after my freshman year. I had to start work at 6am. I was at first pretty nervous about this as getting up for a 7:40am class in college had nearly killed me—by which I mean that I slept through class often and got a B even though it was some gen ed course that should have been simple.
But, as the weeks and months progressed, I learned to love my mornings. I started getting up before 5am so that I’d have time to drink my coffee and do a little writing before I went to work. Not only did I get stuff done, I was chipper. I was a morning person all of the sudden. I’d finally trained my body and I had time to enjoy the sunrise and listen to some music and get myself in the right frame of mind for a day of physical labor.
It’s about more than that though. Getting up early means being excited and prepared for the day ahead. It means establishing a routine and being productive. I understand completely why my parents stressed it so much growing up. I think it makes me a better person to be able to exercise a little self-discipline in that way. I don’t mean to say that people who like to sleep late are always lazy. I mean, sometimes they are, but they are probably just more productive late at night or something. Fine. That’s fine. But I am sure to annoy the crap out of them in the morning just because I can.
However, the whole rising early thing is much easier when there is a job or a class or some sort of something that I eventually need to do in the morning. Since my unemployment, I’ve not been able to consistently get up early. I mean, I don’t sleep past 8:30 usually, but I don’t get up at 6:30 regularly either. And I’m feeling pretty guilty about it lately. I feel my dad’s raised eyebrows and hear him say “Good afternoon” sarcastically when I get up at eight.
So, henceforth I resolve to establish a routine, at least while I’m staying in my storage closet, so that I’m up and sitting in the “reading nook” of this house by 7:30am. I feel better about myself and I get more work done this way. Plus, I get so frustrated with people who sleep in a lot when they’re traveling. I mean, there is only so much time to see and do everything. Sleeping in says to the people I’m visiting and the city I’m staying in that I don’t care, that I’m not excited to be there.
But by golly, I am excited.