Now that I am back to school as the kindergarten teacher at the American School of Puerto Vallarta (ASPV), I am trying to adapt to the very early mornings once again. The reason why I mention early mornings as the adaptation focus is because I find them to be, hands-down, the hardest part of teaching. I AM NOT NATURALLY READY TO BE A HUMAN BEING BY 7:45 AM.
And here’s a detail that you are definitely going to call counter-intuitive: I have to get up as early as 5:30 am in order to be more or less happy and coherent when my students arrive in my classroom. You might think that’s weird. Why wouldn’t I sleep as long as possible?
I remember being a teenager and my working mother always having my breakfast on the table by 7:30 am. I, being an adolescent and therefore entirely unconcerned about anyone whose name didn’t start with an L and end with an A and who wasn’t myself, didn’t think much about it. But then one day I heard her describe her morning routine, beginning at 5:30 am, and I was dumbfounded. What was that woman DOING at that time of day? Surely it didn’t take THAT long to boil an egg? Or did it? (I didn’t find out the answer to this question for quite a long time, because I didn’t really care that much as long as the egg was already boiled and on my plate before school.)
Well, now I get it. No, it doesn’t take that long to boil an egg, but, then again, my mother wasn’t actually waking up that early because of all the wonderful things she couldn’t wait to do for her two children. She wasn’t planning our lunches, or contemplating our gorgeous sleeping faces, or mentally appreciating our sparkling personalities (mine even more shimmery than my brother’s). She was committing to her own self-care through quiet meditation, exercise, and probably a bit of caffeine. She was modeling the importance of that precious bit of time every parent deserves, even if it meant getting up in the dark every morning.
Now, as I mentioned before, I’m not naturally a morning person. I love late nights during vacations. I stay up late, watching Netflix, or having a glass of wine, or reading a good book, and just relishing how nice it is in my own company. Now that I have teenagers, sometimes I spend that time with them, but it’s still nice, and it’s still quiet.
But working in a school means that the busy, noisy workday starts by 7:45 am, and, for a teacher, usually quite a bit sooner. Twelve hours later, I am nodding off over the school lunches I’m still preparing. Late nights are not an option for five days a week, ten months a year.
However, once I get into the routine, I am grateful for my quiet, early mornings. I can sip my coffee without answering my children’s questions regarding the whereabouts of all of their school belongings. I can have a shower without hearing anyone arguing over the last bowl of Zucaritas cereal. I can contemplate how my day will unroll without feeling rushed, or without rushing anyone else (that comes a bit later). I could even exercise because, at 5:30 am, I won’t sweat quite as much as I would if I tried to do it at 5:30 pm (perish the thought).
I DON’T usually exercise. But I could.
As much as I do miss being a night owl, it’s really nice to know that there’s a time of day that’s just for me. It may not be my naturally favorite time of the day to get up but it is okay. And that is because, as early as it seems, it is a gift of time I save just for me. I know I deserve it.