It’s 5:30am; the house is bathed in stillness and the blue glow of dawn that streams in through the sliding glass door and the broad front window. The only sound is the baby’s soft breathing, amplified by the monitor, and the gurgle of his humidifier in Los Angeles’s desert air. This is my quiet time of day, daddy time of day, my 90 minutes before anyone else will be about.
Now the creak of every floorboard fills the house as I softly pad to the living room, roll out my yoga mat, and sit for my Active Isolated Stretching. I must be an Angeleno now; my precious time is spent in a fringe flexibility activity. And a lefty; the soundtrack provided by the BBC’s daily world news podcast. Then, with a glass of water, my laptop comes out and I begin to work on my blogging or photo editing or other project I do for only me.
No longer do I drag myself out of bed for an early gym, or to make a flight, or because I fell behind at work; I wake up early to find time for myself and my fool projects. An hour unmolested is a privilege now, and so waking up at this equally fool hour has also become a privilege, and I fret over every wasted minute. Could I have poured that glass of water faster? Did I dawdle grabbing the baby monitor and my phone from the bedside and waste a minute getting out to the living room and starting my ritual?
The night before is also filled with responsibility. I want time for me, and I want to be a good dad, and I will not allow muri to invade my life, so I must make a conscious effort to get to bed timely. But it’s not just that there’s temptation — a few quiet moments on the couch with a Scotch and the DVR — there’s also responsibility. Do I make the bottles for the next day, spending 10 minutes now but saving it in the morning? Do pack my lunches up, or my gym bag? Or do I cut those corners and get to bed earlier, paying the price with shorter me time in the morning? It’s a quiet deal I make with myself: do these chores, skip dessert, earn the privilege of my daddy time of day.
I set up my alarm clock across the room from the bed, so I have to get up and walk to it and turn it off; no rolling over and hitting snooze. Unawake, I assure my wife it’s not yet 7am, not yet time for the baby or her or even the two little black dogs1 to wake. I love them, but I’m glad they all sleep; this is daddy time of day, just for me.