It was a weekday, about 7:30 a.m. My husband slung his briefcase over his shoulder and grabbed his keys. “Have a great day, girls,” he said.
“Da!” Anna exclaimed, throwing her little 2-year-old arms around one leg.
“Me too!” yelled Grace, stronghold-ing his other leg.
“I love you guys too,” Stanton said. “Have a great day with Mom.”
Grace pouted. “I wish we could come with you.”
Anna imitated her big sister’s pout. “Da, Da, Da.”
Scenes like these are always an ego boost for me. “Come on, girls,” I said, pouring myself a cup of coffee. “We’re going to have a fun day.”
Stanton escaped out the front door. Our daughters trudged over to me. “So what are we doing today, Mom?” Grace asked, as I sat down.
“Ma, Ma, Ma.” Anna climbed into my lap. She smiled at the bowl of Cheerios I’d poured for myself. “Yum, yum, yum.” Grabbing my spoon, she began shoveling cereal into her mouth.
“Anna…” I sighed. “Can’t Mom eat her breakfast?”
Anna shook her head. I shook my head too, and reached for my coffee.
“What are we doing today, Mom?” Grace repeated.
“Well, you have school…”
“Yay!” Grace said. “I want to pick out my clothes.”
I frowned at her. “Excuse me. Is that how you ask to do something?”
“Please can I pick out my clothes?”
Anna munched on Cheerios.
“We’ll pick them out together,” I told Grace.
Grace exhaled, deeply. “Fine. I want us to do that now…please?”
“I need to drink my coffee first.”
Grace kicked at the floor. “All you do is drink coffee,” she grumbled.
“Excuse me?” Before I could go on, something cold, wet and mushy fell into my lap. I looked down. Anna, meanwhile, looked up. She had tipped over the bowl of Cheerios.
“Anna,” I groaned, getting up.
“Aaahhh,” she said, stepping into the cereal on the floor.
“No!” I said, reaching over to grab her. I deposited her away from the spill. “This happens all…the…time,” I said, wiping at my previously clean pair of pants with a napkin.
“Don’t whine, Mom—solve the problem,” Grace said.
This is something I say to her, but it’s not something I want to hear, uncaffeinated, at 7:35 a.m.
Fact: I am not a morning person.
Another fact: Most mornings, I struggle as not-a-morning-person with my two little kids.
Mainly, I struggle to be patient.
I struggle to be patient when my toddler spills my bowl of cereal on the floor for the third or fourth or 40th morning a row.
I struggle to be patient when my preschooler accuses me of “only drinking coffee,” when I was up until midnight the night before working on a writing project, folding laundry and filling out her application for spring soccer.
I’m working on becoming a more patient mom, especially in the morning.
Mornings when Stanton is out of town for work can be particularly trying. These are usually the mornings that Grace picks to greet me at 5:45 a.m. with urgent questions like, “Mom, where’s my purple glue stick?” and “For our summer vacation, can we go to the moon?”
I answer—“I don’t know;” “No”—only to be asked the same follow-up question multiple times in a row. Yes, you guessed it: the ever-popular, never-ending “Why?”
“Why? Why? WHY?”
Oh. My. Goodness.
On one such husband-out-of-town morning, I set the girls up in Grace’s room with plenty of fun activities—sticker books, “pretend and play” doctor kits, blocks—so that I could take a shower. About a minute after I turned the water on, the girls poked their heads inside the shower curtain, pointed at me and began laughing hysterically.
Let me just tell you, friends: I’m in my 30s. Could be in better shape, stretch marks—you know how it goes. To wake up, begin showering and then see the reasons for those stretch marks point at you and laugh hysterically—there are more rewarding feelings than that, I have to say.
Another morning I was brushing my teeth. I reached behind the bathroom door for my towel—at which point the door suddenly slammed my head against the wall. “Aaahhh!” I cried. What had just happened?
Then I saw Anna looking up at me. She smiled. “Ma!”
“We found you!” Grace shouted from behind her.
“Guys. Guys.” I willed myself not to raise my voice. “Did you see what just happened? My head is killing me!”
“Mom,” Grace hissed. “Remember, you don’t like that word.”
I closed my eyes.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, the girls and I do our best to get Grace to preschool on time. The wild card, though: Anna. Some mornings we’ll be ready to go, with everything we need—my diaper bag, Grace’s backpack, water for the girls and coffee for me—when Anna throws a fit when I try to put her jacket on. Or she takes her pants off. Or wants to wear Grace’s tap shoes.
(What to wear. The majority of my conflicts and time sucks with my daughters revolve around what to wear.)
Eventually, we’ll get out the front door. Get in the car and on our way.
A couple of minutes later…
“Spill! Spill!” Anna.
“Mom! Anna had a spill.” Grace.
I glance back. Anna’s sippy cup of water, marketed as leak-proof, is in fact not. Water soaks her pants.
“Off! Off!” Anna.
“Mom! Anna wants to take her pants off.”
Of course she does.
I reach for my coffee. “As soon as we stop, I’ll change Anna’s clothes.”
“Off! Off!” Anna’s voice is becoming increasingly strident.
“Mom! Anna wants to take her pants off now!”
The clock says 8:26 a.m. I gulp down some coffee. “Let me find a song on the radio, girls.”
“Off! Off! OFF!!!”
I turn on the radio. It’s in the middle of a song we all like. “Keep it here!” Grace yells.
“OFF!” Anna keeps yelling. Maybe by the chorus, she’ll have settled down.
I have some more coffee.
Yes, I struggle as not-a-morning-person. But I’m working on it, one daybreak at a time. Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it, right, friends?
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.