I recently wrote about how hectic mornings are at my house.
And that hasn’t changed.
But early mornings are a different story. A quieter story.
In the wee hours of the day, my daughter sometimes wanders into our bedroom. She’s usually carrying a blanket, a sippy cup of water and at least one stuffed animal. As she stumbles toward me in the dark, she doesn’t say a word or shed a tear. But I know what she wants.
Although I know I should send her back to her room, she looks so sweet with droopy eyes and disheveled hair. I can’t help but pull her into bed next to me.
She usually falls asleep instantly, and I lie next to her, listening to her deep contented breaths.
Sometimes, she rolls over and drapes her soft little arm across my neck. Sometimes, she pulls my arm across her back.
Such an arrangement helps when she’s sick, like during the weeklong flu she had recently. I can check for a fever without getting out of bed. I’m there if she wakes up and needs a drink or if she’s sweaty or if she has to make a mad dash for the bathroom. And I’m happier knowing I can hear her every sigh.
When my alarm goes off during the week (my husband leaves for work long before we get up), Mara opens her eyes briefly and smiles at me. Then she usually drifts back to sleep.
It’s a great way to start the day. But it’s bad, too, because all I want to do is stay in bed, watching her doze.
Spending extra time in bed leads to the hurried, hectic mornings I dread. But sometimes I indulge anyway and accept my fate.
When I shared these early morning moments with my husband, he wasn’t surprised that I wanted to savor them. “It’s the only time she’s still,” he said with a laugh.
Most of the time, Mara is a bundle of energy. She chatters endlessly about her imaginary friends, her cousins and her many adventures at day care. She climbs on the couch, talks over me while I try to have a conversation with my husband and demands my undivided attention.
If I make her do something she doesn’t want to do — brush her teeth, get dressed, walk upstairs, take a bath, get out of the bathtub or go to bed, for instance — she sobs, loudly.
When she doesn’t listen, she gets a timeout, which isn’t fun for anyone.
When she sits on my lap, which is getting smaller as my pregnant belly gets bigger, she squirms and wiggles constantly. It’s exhausting to hold her.
But in those quiet moments before the sun comes up, I get to see my little girl in rare form: still and silent.
And, like a beautiful sunrise, sometimes you just have to stop and take it in.
Kara Eberle is editor of Smart. Sign up for a free subscription to the magazine at www.smartmamapa.com/subscribe.