Fourteen years as a father has taught me a lot about life. It has opened my eyes to human nature, the way different people think. It has also helped me see myself in a different light.
I realize that I can push myself to do things that I don’t necessarily want to do.
Ever since I was a young man, I never liked getting up early. I think I’ve always been nocturnal and my circadian rhythm aligns more with night people than early birds. I seem to be wide awake from the hours of 6PM-2AM.
Anyone who has kids knows that staying up until 2AM only works if you have a partner or some other human being who will pick up the slack in the early mornings if you aren’t awake.
When babies are really young, they seem to be awake more than they are asleep. I remember when my aunt gave me one of the best pieces of advice when my daughter was born. She told me to sleep when the baby sleeps. I took in that info and made sure I slept whenever she did. It worked.
You see, being a full time musician, I often have to work late at night. Gigs might start at 10PM and get done at 2AM. Even when I’m playing in a Broadway show, I may start at 8PM and get done at 10:45PM – but I am usually wide awake afterward and can’t seem to wind down until 1AM or 2AM.
I have long accepted the fact that this is who I am and I’m better suited for waking at 9AM or later. It’s just how I operate. Unfortunately, that isn’t how the rest of the world works when kids are young or are in school. They need to get up and get out and be a part of the community that requires the to be present and awake for an 8:30AM start at school.
Due to the reality that I am a single father raising two kids and co-parenting with my ex-wife who lives separately from me, our agreement has me picking up our kids from her place Monday-Friday at 7:15AM to take them to school. This means that I have to get up at 6:30AM to get there on time. NOT FUN.
Sometimes I wonder how I manage to get through the day with such little sleep. Well, I’ve learned how to pace myself and take naps when I need to in order to get as much rest in as I can. Since I have to get them after school and make them dinner as well as help them with their homework and them bring them to their mother by 6PM, I need to have as many synapses firing as possible.
The agreement my ex-wife and I signed in 2008 was relevant to the time and the ages of the kids back then. Our kids are growing and things have definitely changed, but my dedication towards them hasn’t. I’ll endure the sleep deprivation and running around town for as long as it takes. I know that in a few more years both of my kids will be in height school and they will need me less and less on a regular basis. They will be going to school on their own and probably only checking in with me if they need money for something. It’s all good though. I’m making the most of the time I have now and I’m cherishing each moment.
Fighting through the lack of sleep and battling my natural circadian rhythm is tough at times, but my kids are worth the price.