I’m a morning person. A slow, leisurely kind of morning person. A morning person who doesn’t want to be rushed out of bed. I’ll pad to the bathroom bright and early, but my goodness, that doesn’t mean I’m ready for action. No, I’m a morning person who likes to climb back under the covers with a cup of coffee and a book. I’m a savor-the-morning kind of person. An I’ll-bother-with-breakfast-in-a-while-just-let-me-sit-in-silence-for-a-bit-kind-of-person. I’m happy if there’s a bit of quiet music. Better if there’s just birdsong. Eventually, a bit of news. My trouble isn’t mornings, just the scarcity of the particular kind of morning that I love.
The most obviously tricky part of mornings in a family, is that it’s not just about the whims and wishes of one person. Duh. There’s a whole team of moods and habits and needs to navigate. And try as I might to maintain my own personal sphere of calm and quietude, last week I was so committed to enjoying my cup of coffee quietly on the couch that I was wholly caught of guard by a catapulting toddler and managed to send the entirety of my mug splattering onto the couch. (Thank goddess for slipcovers.)
This week marks the first day of school for Faye and Silas. We’re all really excited, but I’ve been trying to psyche myself up for the early morning wrangling. I know how getting out of the house goes when we don’t have anywhere particular to be: By the time we’ve managed to pack up essentials, belabor which hole in the sandal strap is the correct hole in the sandal strap for inserting in a buckle, gone back inside to pee, taken one last bite of plum, given up on taking down the recycling, and finished our negotiations about which child will get carried down four flights, I feel like I’ve run a marathon and I haven’t even hoisted the enormous stroller out of the building yet.*
Last week, I read KJ Dell-Antonia’s new book, How To Be A Happier Parent and her first chapter on morning routines was particularly comforting for me right now. It’s a welcome thing to hear another parent admit that they don’t spring forth from their slumber ready to whip up a gourmet breakfast and sing a rousing rendition of She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain. More than that, her words offered a bit of encouragement and a few practical reminders:
To know how long the walk to school actually takes, and count backward from there, for instance.
To empty dishwashers before bed, not before breakfast.
To turn off tech—not a reminder for our kids so much as their parents. (I love you all, but answering morning queries about which scooter my children ride or which sandals they wear can wait. (See also!))
Mostly this sweet reminder:
“This is your time to be the people you are together, and that matters more than the clock or the forgotten algebra assignment. That doesn’t mean you don’t keep making things happen or you aren’t still going to hold the child assigned to empty the dishwasher to her job. It just means that there really is something to enjoy in the mornings…Mornings are still the worst. But they’re also part of the best. We get one a day, every day, until they’re gone.”
Here’s to better mornings, friends.
* Speaking of strollers: We’re gearing up to sell our large double stroller. If anyone is local and considering one, let me know! It was a lifesaver for us when we got it, and it’s in great condition.
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