Struggling as Not-a-Morning-Person When You Have Little Kids

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.

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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, Mom?

“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

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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.

Moms, Make Time for Your Friends on BonBon Break

I’m so happy to share that my essay “Moms, Make Time for Your Friends” has been published in the wonderful online magazine BonBon Break. Head on over to check it out! Hope you enjoy, friends.

Many thanks to the lovely folks at BonBon Break for this awesome opportunity to collaborate.

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Don’t miss Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

Marissa Mayer’s Two-Week Maternity Leave: Why Do You Care?

This past week, I read that Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO and reigning Silicon Valley fashionista, gave birth to twin girls. She plans to return to her high-powered job after a two-week maternity leave, according to news reports. She also took a two-week maternity leave following the birth of her first child in 2012.

Two-week maternity leave. Well, lots of people have lots to say about this. The opinions (and headlines) range from skeptical and NSFW (“Marissa Mayer’s Two-Week Maternity Leave Is Bullsh*t,” compliments of The Daily Beast) to supportive (TIME’s “Marissa Mayer Is Setting a Good Example With Two-Week Maternity Leave”).

Every woman is different, and every mom mothers differently. The decision to go back to work or take more time at home after having a baby usually comes with a measure of uncertainty, compromise and hope. Because all moms hope for the best for their children.

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My older daughter was born in 2011. I took a three-month maternity leave and went back to my job. I loved my job, loved my colleagues, and also wished I could be with my new baby at the same time.

An impossible wish.

So I walked away from a wonderful job to become a stay-at-home mom/freelance writer.

Some friends of mine have made similar decisions, while others have continued building their careers while raising their children. I respect all of these women tremendously because I know, from personal experience, that all of these paths—working out of the home full-time, staying at home full-time, and blending both professional goals and caregiving—they’re all hard.

Being a mom is hard, however you do it.

So when I read about Marissa Mayer and her two-week maternity leave…initially, I raised my eyebrows. Wow, two weeks, I thought. That seemed short, to me.

I’m me, though. She’s her. And you’re you.

We need to take care of our own lives, and our own families, instead of speculating on those of others.

We don’t know the variables (and sleepless nights) that go into others’ decisions.

Sometimes we’re quick to judge others because we question our own, different decisions. And we seek reassurance that the sacrifices we’ve made, in terms of time and/or money, have been worth it.

For me, I’m glad I was there when my daughters were little. Glad, and grateful.

I also wonder if I’ve done enough to stay in the game professionally while primarily staying at home with my daughters these past four years. Because I’d love to work more and write more someday.

So I wonder. Have I taken on enough writing projects? Have I tried as hard as I could? Should I have said yes more, instead of passing on opportunities that could have made a difference to me personally, and to my family financially?

Have I made mistakes?

The answer, of course, is yes. Yes, I’ve made mistakes. Maybe you have too. Because being a mom is hard, however you do it. And we’re all doing the best we can.

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s e-books, available on Amazon.com. Writing at its most heartfelt.