I stopped sleeping soundly when Owen was a baby. It turns out newborns don’t make a lot of noise. It takes a few weeks before they develop the lung power to jar you out of a deep sleep and get you on your feet. When I came home from the hospital with Owen, I was constantly worried I wouldn’t hear him if I was sleeping.
I was a mother. I had a baby. I quickly taught myself to sleep lightly. By the time he hit a month old, he had developed a good pair of lungs and later, you could hear him from anywhere in the house or on the property.
I never learned to sleep deeply after that. Owen is 52 and I’m still listening for the baby to cry. Apparently “turning on” light sleep is easy. Switching to real sleep is not easy. For me, it has been impossible.
Garry, on the other hand, worked all kinds of shifts because that’s the news. It happens when it happens. Garry was also the only reporter who lived walking distance from the studios. When there was a lot of snow and no one else could get there, Garry was the guy. I think that he also got called because his last name started with an “A.” When whoever was calling people in looked at the roster, Garry was on top.
Between one thing and another, I don’t think — except when we were on vacation and where a phone could ring (no cell phones yet), he never got a full night’s sleep.
He retired in 2001 and has been sleeping ever since. He is sleeping now. If I didn’t shake him away, I think he might sleep through dinner. Other people who worked in news seem to have a similar sleep pattern. Gone are the “Hurry up, we’re burning daylight” weekends. Things begin when everyone wakes up, has their coffee or tea, something to eat, takes a shower, dresses, etc. After which we may do something, but then again, we might not. We have all banished “hurrying” except for doctor appointments and anything for which we bought tickets.
Garry exercises every day at what ever time he gets up and finishes showering. It could be as early as noon or four in the afternoon. He never misses a day’s exercises, but when they occur whenever.
I envy that. I sleep later than I used to, but never much past mid-morning and that’s mostly because I get to bed late. I’m usually up late writing and processing photographs for the next day. Recently, I decided to try a new technique: writing during the day instead of the middle of the night. Every time I go to bed and haven’t written anything for tomorrow, I worry. I’m so accustomed to doing the next day’s posts in advance, it seems weird not doing them.
So, with all this sleeping late going on, do we feel we are “catching up” on all those years of missed sleep?
I asked Garry not long ago if he thinks we’ll ever make up for the years of missed sleep.
“No,” he said. “It’s permanent.” I think he’s right. It is permanent.