Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Morning Opponent

I’m not a morning person.  I know people who love the morning.  They have gotten a full day’s work done and solved all the world’s problems by 10 am.  They wake energized and find inspiration in the quiet moments before the sun comes up.  Not me.  There is nothing quite or peaceful about the morning.
For me, it’s filled with anxiety and stress.

“Will I have enough time?”

“Are we going to be late??”

“What am I going to forget today?”

For me, the morning is an opponent.  It has always been me against her. My alarm goes off at 6 am and it’s Round 1.  I throw my clothes on that I laid out the night before as part of my “training”.  It’s a good chance to warm up and learn what advantages and disadvantages I have for this fight.  I start the process of waking the children which is Round 2.  I can’t force them out of bed or I’ve lost the fight before it’s begun.  I have to ease them out.  It can be like easing a kitten out of a tree. You don’t want to spook them.  You want them to feel safe with you, so, I remind myself, no crazy eyes.  They get dressed with the clothes I laid out for them while I make their breakfast.  While breakfast is cooking, I put their lunches together which are in the refrigerator from the night before.  In case you haven’t picked up on the pattern, everything is done the night before, because the Night is my coach and support.  He has trained me how to cross the “Danger Zone”, get in range, and work from a disadvantage.

When the kids sit down for breakfast, that’s when Round 3 begins.  Can’t force food down their throats, they have to do it in their time.  So I try to be patient.  I brush my hair and put my makeup on.  It’s better for me to be somewhere else while they eat, as to not spook them.  They can’t know my opponent, or again, the fight is lost. 

Once breakfast is done, it’s time to get in the car, Round 4.  It usually takes two trips to the car.  The first trip is just with my things and then the second includes the kids and all the stuff that comes with them.  I take deep breaths because I can feel the second hands ticking and I don’t want to get called with too much time against the ropes.  I keep my stance as best I can, keep my punches short so I don’t tire out.

If all goes well with the transition to the car, it’s 7:30 and we are on our way.  The Final Round is the most stressful because it’s filled with things I can’t control.  Three different train tracks that could have a train passing, or sitting, at any given time.  They never seem to run on any kind of schedule.  School buses, red lights, accidents, construction, all things that can’t be avoided or predicted, no matter what phone app you are using.  It’s the final obstacle course before victory and it’s important to be clear and use my instincts.  I have to be smart about the morning commute, psychic almost, anticipating the punches as I duck and weave.  I pull into the car line at my kid’s school before 7:55 and I’ve won!  Victory is mine!  But I’m careful to not be too arrogant because I fight again tomorrow. The morning is a formidable opponent and has always been my best advisory.

I was told if I want to work on my writing and be more creative, I need to wake up an extra 30 minutes early to journal. I think this is a great idea, but it's also overwhelming for me to imagine. I desperately want to live a more creative life,  but I have to go into the darkness and meet my fear to do this.  How bad do I want it? I’m giving time I never had to give in the first place.  Let’s hope my opponent doesn’t find out.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Birthday Cake


My youngest will be turning 3 next week.  As I pull out the flour canister and eye-ball the levels to make sure I have what I need, I feel a sense of anticipation for the future.  We will be able to travel as a family more easily, I’ll have a little more freedom to explore some personal goals that were put on the back burner after having children. 

I break the eggs into the bowl, one and then the next, there is a lump growing in my throat.  My baby isn’t a baby anymore.  She will be in pre-school this fall.  There are no more diapers in her closet or crib sheets in the dryer.  She can do so much by herself now, she doesn’t need me hovering over her. 

I pour the eggs into the mixing bowl, a slow and steady stream, and I think of the days that pass.  One after another without fail, each morning, she looks a little different.  I brush the hair out of my eyes with the back of my flour covered hand, and I recall the early mornings when I wake to her whispers “good morning!”.  She awaits anticipating for my eyes to open.  That look on her face when she sees my eyes open, that’s what pure joy and love look like.  I may be tired, but this is the last morning she will be this age, in this moment.  “Hang on to it”, I remind myself.

I watch the batter whip up and become fluffy, the beater going back and forth faster than my eyes can follow.  All the things Eliza inherited from me and her father, we are watching her whip them together into something new.  She has a voice and an opinion and a unique view point.  She laughs and sings without abandon, like her father.  She is focused and determined, like her mother.  She is uniquely her own. 

I pour the batter into the greased cake pans and smooth out the tops with a rubber spatula.  My son, who is eagerly assisting now, has asked to lick the beaters.  I put the cakes in the oven and set the timer.  Now we wait.  We wait for the cake to rise and solidify just as we wait for the dawn of the next day.  We know it is coming.  We will all be a day older.  We will all be a little different.  There will be a part of us that will fall away each night when we close our eyes.  It’s a little harder to detect in adults, but we see it in our children. 

My youngest and is growing up, faster than my first, it seems.  For a moment, I feel homesick for that newborn baby breath and the sound of the milk drunk coos in my ear.  I will miss the feeling of those tiny legs tucked up under their bellies as I held them over my heart.  But at the same time, I have so much anticipation of each day because I will be learning something new.  Just as my daughter changes every day, so do I.  My eyes are on the horizon looking for what’s next.  What will help me be a better mom, a better Me?  My kids do that for me.

The cake is done and I pull it out to cool on a rack on the counter.  I now have two little people on either side of me anxious to see it and anticipating when it will be iced and ready to serve. 
Although my eyes are on the horizon, I have to remember to also look down, so I see them and who they are becoming.  I don’t want to miss this.  Because tomorrow, they will be different.

I bake cakes for birthdays because just as we prepare for birth, I like the meditation of preparing for birthdays as well.  A Looking Back to remember, but also looking forward, and remembering not to forget to look down

Happy Birthday, Eliza.

Love, Mom