Long Evenings and Good Mornings


The deep drone fills the entire house. I can feel it slightly vibrating the walls. Beep beep beep. I stop what I’m doing and listen for a moment. Then two more. Ah! The alarm has been shut off. The milk I pour into the cup is extra cold and the chocolate syrup takes a while to mix in completely. I put the milk on the table and place a napkin, no, two napkins, next to it.

The bright green digits of the clock on the stove tell me a number of minutes have passed since the alarm was turned off and I haven’t heard any noise from upstairs. At the bottom of the stairs, I pause, listening intently. No movement. I walk up the stairs and peek into the bedroom. A little boy shaped lump, like a mummy made with spaceship-decorated fabric, is laying quietly in bed with the blanket over his head, blocking the light. Asleep.

Loudly, I call to the dog. “Let’s go, Boy! Wake up time!” At the head of the bed, I kiss the round shape at the top of the blanket-mummy and say a cheery, “Good morning” just as the dog jumps onto the bed and starts bouncing him into a wakeful state. I peel back the blanket and give him a kiss on his exposed cheek.

Groggy though my son is, he is still young enough to consider such brash attention first thing in the morning with the good intentions with which it was intended. The dog sniffs his ear and my son starts smiling even though he is not quite awake. To jump start his thinking, I remind him, “Today is picture day! Do you want to wear something special or regular clothes? You have a button down shirt. What about a tie? You can use one of Daddy’s ties. I just have to learn how to tie it.” He surprises me by agreeing to wear the necktie. Google to the rescue.

In only a few years, judging from my experience with my oldest child, such pleasant, if slow, morning interactions will disappear to be replaced by pressing snooze until just enough time remains for the student to throw on (hopefully) clean clothes and dash out the door. All with very little interaction with mommy.

When did I realize our family would never achieve Ozzy and Harriet style fuss-free mornings and evenings? When my kids stopped napping regularly at one and half years old. Sleep, naps or a normal bed time, was elusive. From playing with toes to recounting the entire day and discussing the philosophy of Pokemon—why would anyone want to close their eyes and put a stop to such riveting contemplations? While I like to be understanding, and being privy to the thought processes of my precocious little one makes it easy, we still had to impose silent time.

Rather than wake up when the extra-loud alarm clock buzzes insistently, it is turned off and the morning routine starts to slip. These are the days I hope there is something simple to make for breakfast. I make sure his feet are on the floor and he is supporting his own weight before I go back to the kitchen.

Because I volunteered to learn how to tie a necktie, we’re running a bit later than usual. Just as he comes downstairs, I place a re-heated waffle on the table. I do the morning check: Shoes? Yes. Hair brushed? Good enough. Oops! The shirt is on inside out. He’s a good sport and fixes it.

The time I spent learning how to tie a necktie was probably why we missed the bus. I had the brilliant idea a week ago to get up and cook breakfast 15 minutes earlier. Did it help? No—it took an extra 15 minutes to eat. It was a relaxed 15 minutes, though. It seems, much like projects at work, the task will expand to fit the time available. Ultimately, what works for us is a bit of flexibility; I recognize that we might just need to drive in more than other families.

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