We just finished Week 2 of Bob’s 12 week stint on the night shift at work. Every couple of years his crew gets a turn to work nights. He missed his last rotation a few years ago because he was out for knee surgery. It had been so long since he worked the night shift that I thought-hoped that the policy had changed.
When he announced that he was “going to nights” a couple of weeks ago, the silence that ensued was burdensome. Although I was raised in an 8-5ish household, it isn’t that foreign to Bob. His dad worked the “third shift” at the local GM plant and Bob’s sister works the ER night shift at a hospital in Flint. It seems like that part of MI is set up for night shifts. Pam belongs to a midnight bowling league. When we go to an early morning AA meeting up there, there are usually some folks who just got off work.
South Texas isn’t like MI. My granddaughter is permanently on the night shift at HEB’s. Her main complaint is that it’s hard to plan things to do after work since we are all at work when she gets home. I worry that my grandson in law will be a vampire.
Bob and I approached Week 1 with the sadness of a parting which in a sense it is. His night shift starts at 5:30PM and ends at 4AM which is my awake/asleep cycle at home. Don’t worry. I’ll just be up when you get home and we can visit then. It will be fine.
Day 1, I went to bed before 10 and was awake at 4, bouncing into the living room when I heard him drive up. We visited, talked about our days/nights while I drank my morning coffee and he drank his Vernor’s ginger ale. At 7 when I got ready for work, he mowed the front yard. We cheerily waved at one another. We can do this. We are adaptable.
That night, I watched a show on TV and didn’t make it to bed until almost 11. I still made it up at 4, though, and we sat in companionable silence. I left for work at 7:30 and Bob slipped off to bed. Day 3, I overslept the 4AM alarm and woke when Bob crawled into bed murmuring, “I love you. Let’s just go to sleep.”
I was nudged with the great white shark of reality that brushes against me when I try to make my FitBit goal of 12,000 steps after realizing I only have 3,200 steps registered at 8PM: I am not a kid anymore. I can still see 30 year old Margaret when I look in the mirror, but the body isn’t buying it.
For his part, Bob kept adding alarms to make sure he didn’t over sleep. On Saturday, he forgot to turn them off and we were jumping to 6 different ring tones. Luckily, he has weekends off so by Sunday we are feeling invincible again. Maybe not quite that good, but not so battered.
Bob sleep trained last night, staying up until 3:30 and sleeping until 9. I trained by staying up with him but couldn’t make it past 1. The days of staying up until dawn and sleeping all day ended about the same time as my drinking career.
10 more weeks until this cycle is over. I resisted the urge to make a countdown calendar. Bob’s employer invariably changes plans so he might have 10 weeks, 3 weeks, or 16 weeks on this night shift. I won’t call this my “new normal.” It’s just life. I’ve already whined about the bad part. The good part is that I can watch Steven Colbert, Samantha Bee, and CNN-aka “fake news”- without Bob deep sighing disapproval. The better part is that weekends are truly joyful. I appreciate Bob’s presence in a fresh light.
The good news is that everything changes. The bad news is that everything changes.