I hear little footsteps above me and know that means that my older daughter is awake and will be downstairs in 30 seconds to wake me up and convince me to go for a bike ride before school. I travel so much for work that every day I'm home is for my older daughter a cause for celebration that begins before the sun comes up.
There's a child in my bed, bouncing on me and breathing on me and putting her freezing cold hands on me.
Husband is groaning in his semiawake state, begging us to go back to sleep. I beg my daughter for 10 more minutes of rest. "Fine. Go back to bed, Mama." Guilt works every time; I'm wide awake now.
We get up and close the bedroom door so my husband can sleep. Our younger daughter is usually still asleep upstairs. If she is and the stars are aligned, the bike ride might happen. If not, we read or do homework or draw, and I make coffee and snuggle into her until our younger daughter is awakened by the commotion. I sneak a look at my work emails, for which I get reprimanded by one or both of my kids to stay off my phone during family time.
All predawn shenanigans are coming to an end and it's time to get busy. In a panic, I start picking out clothes, nagging the girls to brush their teeth, and making breakfast all at once. Nobody wants to eat the same thing, so I make oatmeal, cereal, and a bagel while inhaling a protein bar and making more coffee.
Husband's alarm goes off.
Husband's snooze goes off. I start nagging him to get up. I check work emails again and see three from my boss and feel panic.
Husband's snooze goes off a third time, and he calls from the bedroom that he's up. He isn't.
Husband's snooze sounds for the fourth time. I can see that he isn't up, so why is he saying he is?
Husband pads sleepily into the kitchen, singing loudly to the cat and interrupting the kids with early morning chit-chat about how everyone slept, which we covered before 6 a.m. One kid disappears back upstairs to get dressed, and the other begins eating breakfast. He calls to them and asks them to make him coffee, which of course they both jump to do, even though the older one is not dressed and the younger one can't make coffee. Everything else they were doing is forgotten. Husband makes his own coffee, still singing to the cat.
Because no one wants the same thing for lunch either, I make two separate meals, toss in an assortment of cut-up fruits and veggies they will likely as not completely ignore and a baggie of crackers or cookies they will not. I fill water bottles that have at least a 50 percent chance of being left at school. At the same time, I stuff a mouthful of oatmeal into my younger daughter. I choke down another protein bar and put the hot water on for more coffee.
I have a brush in one hand, a spray bottle of detangler in the other, and ponytail holders and barrettes in my teeth, and I chase my girls around. Whomever I can catch first gets their hair done first and best. The faster runner of the two that morning ends up with hastily combed hair that looks as if it hasn't been touched in a week. I remember that no one has actually brushed their teeth and decide I don't care. I wonder who else in the world is experiencing this level of chaos right now.
I notice that no one's backpack is packed. My husband is still singing to the cat. I have my first headache of the day and decide I'm going to zip my lips for once and not nag.
I change my mind and ask in the nicest voice I know how whether he can stop singing to Luna or at least do it more quietly?
I notice that backpacks are still not packed, so I nag my older daughter and she packs hers. My husband packs the younger daughter's. I sneak a peek at work emails again, and there are more emails that I don't have time to read.
Half a cup of coffee in, my husband has disappeared to the bathroom. I turn around and see that my older daughter is drawing. She is still in her underwear. Her clothes are in a pile next to her. As she dresses, I vow that this afternoon we are making a checklist of everything she needs to do in the mornings because I can't start the day like this anymore. I locate my younger daughter and stuff another spoonful of oatmeal into her mouth.
Now the great jacket debate ensues. We check the weather, we ponder which outerwear is appropriate for the day, someone remembers they have gym and needs to change their shoes, we decide it doesn't matter what jacket they wear but, yes, they have to wear one, and we push them out the door.
We are all outside waiting for the bus. Husband and I are still in pajamas and slippers under our jackets. We hear the bus coming down the road and this is when our older daughter chooses to remember something vital that she'd forgotten to pack and disappears back into the house.
Both children are on the bus. We wave and wave until it finally pulls away. We are exhausted and go back inside to make more coffee. If there's time, I shower and change. If not, I throw a hoodie on over whatever I slept in and put my hair up in a ponytail and head upstairs to my office to start my day.
Image Source: Aimee Christian