There was a set of bunk beds in the room and a single bed and all three young girls slept in the same room. The mother slept in the other room. All rooms were wall to wall, floor to ceiling furnishings since the house was so small, “a cracker box” the mother would call it and stacking furniture was just about the only way to store their ever-increasing stuff. The mother didn’t like to throw things away, especially not anything that could serve as memorabilia once the girls were grown and gone. She lived for her girls.
The house had jalousie windows and let a lot of heat or cold in, even when closed, so it was hard to manage temperatures. The slats were useful for the girls to get back in if they managed to lock themselves out though, being latchkey kids and all. They slept with giant puffs in the wintertime since there was only a wall heater in the living room that didn’t seem to have the capacity to get the heat through the little hallway and if it did it was quickly siphoned out the jalousie window pane gaps. Summer was managed with a swamp cooler that brought in more gnats than it pushed out any cool air. They mostly spent the summer at the NCO club swimming pool. Their dad had left them that at least.
The mother worked five days a week and was the sole provider and when the weekend came around, she was determined to sleep in no matter what. Her three daughters weren’t allowed to start any activities or have any friends over until she was awake which might be one o’clock pm or even later. They were kind of expected to sleep in too. They hated it — putting off their weekend until so late in the day was utterly depressing — all their friends out already having played for hours.
Nothing lasts forever though.
It was 1pm when she woke up this morning. She couldn’t believe it when she looked at the clock. The kitties had been pouncing across her for hours but it didn’t seem to register until she was completely ready for it to register. It made her the same kind of depressed that it did when her mother made them wait to get up when they were younger and she vowed to stop the staying up so late that she had gotten back into the bad habit of doing again lately. As if she could.
Maybe it was even because of all that perceived sense of wasted time from childhood that made her value so much every second of every day and made it hard for her to imagine putting anything off for sleeping. But her body made her sleep even with the kitties jumping on her trying to remind her they were hungry.
“You’re going to sleep your life away,” one of her old boyfriends used to say as he was getting up at 5am. Seemed like every boyfriend she’d ever had got up at 5am. Well, most were fairly successful and it has always been said that it is only possible to be very successful if one is an early riser. None were very successful at relationships though — there must be a different set of rules for that.
And then, of course, there are all the stories about famous people who hardly slept or sleep at all or only took or take naps during the day.
What does waking early have to offer — CEOship of a fortune five, private jets, trophy wives and extra girls, billions upon billions of dollars? Maybe an invention but it all mostly circulates around the concept of the money. And mostly men. They can afford to wake early — they have wives, girlfriends or for-hire housekeepers so they can start right away on doing what they want to — whatever will make them the most money or famous. When they wake early it is to exercise, read emails, simple things that make lining up CEOship easier. They seldom mop a floor or clean a tub out. When women wake early, more often it is to make the man’s coffee or his breakfast lunch and dinner and clean the house between all that by the time he gets back home so he can work at whatever he wants to in peace and perfect comfort.
Female success — racking up clean dishes, floors and tubs and cooking millions of meals and yummy ones.
Of course, here she is lucky enough not to have a man to have to make coffee for or cook or clean but still, where is her success? Ah, she sleeps too much or too late or doesn’t get up early.
“Why can’t success be found in late hours just as easily as early ones,” she wonders, and “who says I’m not successful?”
She thinks of her mother and how successful her mother finally felt, later in her life when she was able to do whatever she wanted to without worrying about cleaning a house, if she ever did — because she no longer had three girls to worry much about since they’d all grown up and were worrying about themselves.
She had made sure each of them had a car right by the time they needed one. She found ways to keep those cars repaired, even if it meant staying friends with the friends of the boyfriend she had to forfeit because the kids came before anything else and the boyfriend just didn’t like that very much — even though she cooked and cleaned for him. She looked in papers and found job ads she thought they might like and spurred them on to get those jobs. But finally, after all her hard work of making sure there were puffs to keep them warm when jalousie windows were leaking out all the warm air, she was able to move them all up to a bigger house that had forced-air heating that came through all the vents in each of the many more rooms and casement windows that closed up tight to keep the warm air in. She stayed in that same house and once the girls were gone, that was her luxury and success — and she still had all the memorabilia to prove what she had done.
All the men she’d known that got up at 5am have died now, all in bad health, and all their heirs are fighting over all the money that they made and couldn’t take along. None of them kept a wife but they all went through many women who she suspects swept their floors and cooked or at least did other little details that kept them somewhat happy — even if it was just to be a young thing hanging on their arm and gushing over them.
“He was a great dad. He had three businesses,” was the obituary for one who died “peacefully” alone in a nursing home, no mention of the children by his side.
We all die alone, no one can do it with us. As much as they all tried, their mother died without them around her too — she went when they left to take the mother’s sister home to rest.
One o’clock or five pm it really doesn’t matter much in the bigger scheme of things it seems, unless you want to be included in the search engine results of “what famous people don’t sleep very much”.