My morning routine is different now that I am a stay-at-home parent. Before I had kiddos, I was an early riser. I woke at 5 a.m., drank a quick cup of coffee, ate a protein bar, and packed a lightweight bag with my work clothes. I rode my road bike around town, ending at the gym, got in a work out and a shower… all before work at 8 a.m. I even ran to work some days.
If I wasn’t working out, I was reading a book on my couch or writing at the kitchen table, always drinking coffee and watching the color of the day change from dark to rich to bright daylight. I enjoyed that time dearly. The house was quiet but it was more than the house; it seemed like the entire world was still. Everyone was asleep, except me. There were no cars driving by outside, no headlights shinning through the front windows, no dogs barking – not even birds chirp that early.
I’m not sure what happened to that morning gusto. Maybe it will resurface in the coming years. For now, I just cannot manage to do the same things at the same time. However, my four year old son is a notoriously early riser. He used to wake at 5 a.m, full of energy. With a toddler, 5 a.m. is hard business. After lots of practice and coaxing, he now wakes at 7:30 a.m. (Que Mom version of an end zone dance). I still like to sit and drink at least one cup of coffee before I consider the state of my hair and the dried drool on my cheek. We snuggle on the couch in our pajamas, watch a few Lion Guards, maybe a few Princess Sofias, and then we get on with the day.
Here’s the thing: I now have an eight month old daughter. She LOVES to sleep. She is one of those little babies that fell asleep on her own for the first four months of her life, which made me realize that all those other moms weren’t lying about their easy sleepers after all (I totally thought you were all liars!). It is not as easy now, but she still likes to sleep.
We start the night in our separate rooms, but we all wake in the same king size bed, except the dog, who sleeps on his own bed on the floor (lucky dog). My husband sneaks out at 6 a.m. to go to work. We quietly wave to each other as he moves the dog to the living room and slowly, quietly shuts the bedroom door behind him.
At 7:26 a.m., my son promptly sits up in the bed. He is genuinely excited to be awake. He is Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, twirling in a mountain top field and singing The Hills are Alive. Every morning, he says, quietly yet excitedly, as if it is secret proclamation, “It’s time to wake up!”
“No,” I say.
I blindly reach for my phone, tapping my nightstand until I find it. I squint as I check the clock. The light from the screen hurts my eyes. “It’s not time.”
“Yes,” he says. He is throwing back the sheet, scooting to the side of the bed. “It’s time.”
“No, it’s not time yet. Go back to sleep,” I reach my had toward him, still squinting. My voice is creaky. “Let’s cuddle.”
His legs are dangling at edge of the bed. “The sun is out,” he says. He jumps down, ready to greet his day.
My daughter is sleeping soundly in the crook of my arm. I will have to Jenga myself out from underneath her head before I can move.
I tell my son to play in his room. I tell him to play with his Legos. I tell him I’ll be right behind him and we can play together while the baby sleeps.
He nods. He leaves the room, leaving the door open. The dog saunters back in, panting. He shakes his ears (flap, flap, flap) rolls on the floor (rrrrr, ssshhh, ra, raaa) scratches his nose on the carpet (huha huha huha). And as I begin to lift my daughter’s head, I hear the first door close. kadunk. Then another, and another. kadunk… kadunk.
My son isn’t slamming the doors, but he isn’t quietly shutting the doors like a parent, ninja-creeping around the house while the kids are sleeping. I asked him once why he does it. He said it was to keep the dog out of all the rooms.
I cover my daughter’s ears. She doesn’t move.
These first doors are on the other side of our house. He then makes his way to the laundry room, right next to our bedroom.
My son is now standing at the foot of the bed. He begins to loudly whisper to the dog. He moves his arms in big circles, waving the dog to join him. He turns and walks toward the door, and then stops and walks back to the dog and loudly whisper-asks the dog to play. Once he realizes the dog is not interested, my son leaves the room, pulling the door closed behind him.
I can’t hear him with my door closed. I don’t know if he is sitting on the couch in the living room, playing in his bedroom, or walking out the front door. I snake my arm out from under my daughter’s head. I tip toe across the room. I gently open and close the door. I sit on the couch next to my son and turn on the monitor to find that my daughter is already rolling around in our bed and talking to herself.
Two days ago, I decided we would all just wake up with him. He sat up in bed. He said, “It’s time to wake up!”
I said, “Ok! Let’s tickle your sister.”
He shook his head. “No,” he said. “If you need me, I’ll be in my room.”
There he sat quietly, on his bed, until I came to find him.