Day 6: Morning Howl

Everyone knows that mornings can be difficult. But if you have small children, mornings can be a nightmare.

Take this morning, for example. Wyatt wakes up and, after nursing, doesn’t want to stay in his crib and play while we get ready. He cries a hard, impatient cry, so I go and pick him up. Logan is talking with this contrary tone as she responds to my urgings for her to get ready. She does this a lot now that she is 7. “I’m getting ready, mom,” she keeps insisting as she just stands in the middle of her room really, well, doing nothing to get ready for the day. Lucas speaks in a complaining, whiney voice, insisting that he can’t find winter clothes. He has opened all eight of his dresser drawers and stands in front of them staring at several long pants and sweaters. Neither Logan nor Lucas wants to brush their teeth. And, if we take a minute to listen to each other, I’m sure Nigel and I would sound like barking, howling creatures, strongly urging our kids to get themselves in gear.

Then I think we’re turning a corner. Lucas starts getting dressed miraculously. Nigel takes Wyatt downstairs; Wyatt is calm in his daddy’s arms. He just wants to be held. Sweet little guy – and so easy (for now!). Logan follows me into my room, excited about some news she forgot to tell me the night before.

“They’re making snow at school today, mommy, and we get to play in it!”

I jump on the change in tone: “That sounds like so much fun, Logan!”

“Yeah, I don’t want to play in the snow! It’s too cold!,” she responds in the most obstinate voice she can muster. Since when did I live with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Lucas picks up on this shift and starts complaining that we’re sending him to school to play in the snow without winter clothes – this from a kid who will walk out in a blizzard in shorts if we let him. “This isn’t correct, this isn’t correct,” he keeps uttering like he’s talking about the solution to a math problem. And since when does he say things like that?

What made it worse was that, after the kids finally make their way downstairs where Nigel is getting breakfast for them, I am left to wade through the mound of in-between clothes living on the chair in our room – clothes that I’ve worn once (honestly, just once) and aren’t ready for the closet but are too clean to throw in the hamper. Ugh! I “decide” to wear a skirt covered with spring-colored flowers. Maybe this corduroy garden will brighten the morning.

I get dressed and make my descent downstairs. Logan has her violin for orchestra this afternoon, but can’t find her music. Lucas doesn’t want toast with peanut butter for breakfast. He wants a “long breakfast.” Of course, there’s no time for that. Wyatt sits in his high chair chirping as if he’s wondering why no one is feeding him a mush of spinach or sweet potatoes.

And everywhere I look, I see things I keep meaning to change in the house to make our mornings easier, but I just haven’t gotten around to finishing the project. I need to clear off the bench in our entryway. I need to make sure the kids can hang up their own coats, I need a place for my bag so it doesn’t get buried under coats. All the “To Do” items in this area of the house right now become magnified under my frantic gaze and the sounds of cranky children. But, since my New Year’s Resolution was to stop making “To Do” lists, I try to shrug off my exasperation.

Then I do a quick run through to make sure we have everything. Coats? Boots for man-made snow? Lunches? Lunches! I went to bed without packing the kids’ lunches! Nigel keeps saying that we should take lunch making off our plates, that we should let the kids buy lunch at school at least once in a while. I’m holding my own on that – I want to send the kids to school with homemade lunches (Why??) – but right now I feel like I’m losing a debate that isn’t really a debate because I’m prolonging our departure from the house because I have to pack the lunches.

And all before 8 a.m. Actually, 8:15 a.m., since our morning commute ended with a late arrival to school. At least we didn’t forget anything…except for the snacks I am in charge of this week for Lucas’ class. And I forgot to eat breakfast (That’s generous. Really I forgot to grab a bar for the car). And I don’t have a break until lunch at 12:40.

How was your morning?

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13 Responses to Day 6: Morning Howl

  1. Ah, so real… Brilliant evocation of that element of home life that Dinnerstein called “labor” – the chickensh** that seems to undo as soon as it is done… Like manmade snow on a too warm day in winter.

  2. nichole says:

    awwah … nickie this is great !!!! love it !

  3. Rhonda :) says:

    the scene at our house is a little bit like what you would see on The Smurfs–all the boys are singing, cleaning up their room, lovingly getting along and playing well with one another and I as the virtual Smurfette just love everyone to pieces!……..N.O.T!!!!!

    Nic-keep it coming girlfriend! Love you!

  4. Twoboysclub says:

    I love that your resolution was to stop making to-do lists. I’ve got to add that to my to-do list. Great post!

  5. Eudine says:

    What an amazing writer you are Nicole… you had me hooked from beginning to end.

  6. Sedef Piker says:

    I can’t stop laughing… you took me back to a typical morning in our household from about 10 years ago… Thanks 🙂

  7. David K says:

    I think if you take Nigel’s suggestion and give in to letting the kids buy lunch now and then, you may lose the discipline. Over time, those “buy lunch at school” days you may increase in frequency and it will be hard to pull back. On the other hand, maybe the lunches at your kids’ schools are better than they were when I was a kid, in which case maybe it doesn’t matter so much.

    • That’s what I think! We would definitely fall into the pattern of doing it more. In fact, we had them buying lunch while we had work done on the kitchen. Then we started making the lunches again. In there, somewhere, Lucas “forgot” that he had taken a lunch with him from home and bought lunch (if they don’t have a lunch with them, they have a debit account to buy lunch with — every student does). The lunches at PDS are quite good, though. The school was just certified as a “green restaurant,” and we have our own garden that the students tend, cultivate, and harvest. That food goes to feed the school community. I’m glad that, as faculty, I get to eat lunch here for free! So, what is my problem? Really, it’s the cost — not free to our kids. While reasonable, I feel like if I can do something myself, then that is money that can go towards something else. Teethers for Wyatt??

  8. Sharad Vivek says:

    nice one…you hit all the main touch points in this one, Nic…the constant parental tweaking, and optimizing of the morning process, coupled with the anxiety that something is either being forgotten or simply not getting done, resulting in the realization we knew from the beginning: the mood of the kid(s) ultimately dictates the flow of any given morning and whether i have a mid-morning cocktail or not. Actually, thats its own unaffected event.

    Only thing, we have on you guys re: the morning routine is our weather. No need to change the wardrobe anytime during the year. Flip flops and sundresses all year-round….and my girls wear them too.

    But you made me think of something else. Given your (and Nigel’s) careers as educators, how are you guys feeling about the public vs private school debate? is it even a debate? was your own experience one to emulate or distance yourself from? is this something that you’ve put to bed long ago and have no desire/interest in re-hashing in this place? Inquiring minds want to know….future post, perhaps?

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