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My mornings with my kids are so dramatically different than
those without kids that I sometimes feel like I am living two totally different
lives. The extreme opposites in my routine, mood and tone are so severe it can feel downright jarring. One day I wake up to two kids and the mayhem of single-momdom, only to
turn around the next and wake up to what feels like a spa retreat (otherwise known as pre-kid life). It's schizo.
I have come to depend on my alone time to reboot, decompress and restore for what I know is coming next. Every time a married mom asks me about being a single mom life with a jaw-dropping, "How on earth do you do it?" I feel equally awed and wonder how they do it, without any break from parenting life, day in and day out.
1. I awake to at least one child in my bed. Usually, it's AJ, my 6-year-old son, and we are most likely in a deep spoon
with my arm under the pillow beneath his head and his little body pulled into
me like I'm trying to stuff him back in the womb. Even now at 6 a.m., I am rubbing AJ's back while he sleeps next to me and I write. It's a lovely moment, except every time I lift my hand off his back he looks up and demands more. This is our last calm moment before this shit hits.
2. Aria calls for me from the other room, not a
gentle call but a desperate call like there's a fire or an axe murderer about to behead a Barbie. This triggers me
immediately, especially since all I want to do is go to the bathroom in semi-peace, but no. (AJ: "Mom
are you going number one or number two? Number one or number twooooo?")It's drama and I haven't even taken a shit.
3. There is no peace. Because now AJ is in the
bathroom peeing fountain-style in the shower because we only have one
toilet and one bathroom. There is zero time to stalk Instagram in silence. And I am reminded by 6:30 a.m. that I am not as rich as my best friends with their candy-stocked screening rooms, guest houses, live-in chefs and resistance salt-water lap pools. Some of my furniture is still from Ikea and I'm over 40.
4. I rush to get ready for work (if it's a weekday), which now
includes a 6 a.m. dog walk (more on this new dog in a blog post later). I do so with coffee spilling out
of a mug in one hand, and my phone in the other. Oh, and there's a kid or two that I have
to wake up and drag with me, because I can't leave a 6-year-old alone in the
house apartment. If I lived in a house, I would just open a door
for the dog to pee outside.
5. It's a mad scramble to get kids dressed, breakfast on table, lunches made. And
then there is me. I need to be sufficiently caffeinated and showered with my bed
made, my lunch made and water bottle filled. Of course there is the 10 minutes
of demanding the kids brush their teeth and make their beds, which I say so
many times it makes me think they are literally hard of hearing. They don't want anything
for breakfast and don't like the lunch I'm packing and AJ is scared to walk
into his room alone to get his clothes. Don't forget there are wet towels on
the floor, reading logs to be signed, and all of it for some reason is
maddening. When we're finally all done, we are out of the door by 7:45 a.m. And now I throw in one
more dog walk.
6. A weekend scenario usually starts out deceptively
gentle. With two kids in bed, if both are with me and a little longer cuddle session
before the fighting begins. Usually it starts with one kid hugging me and, while
doing so, "accidentally" hitting the other in the eye. You can imagine the
insanity that escalates in a matter of minutes after this. It's a full on shit
show of hitting and slapping —and I'm in the middle. At this point my only way out
is to send them to watch TV. And the TV makes AJ crazy when I try to shut it off. More whining and bribing. And then there's the dog ...
Mornings without my kids:
The sound of my coffee beans grinding is as gnarly as it gets. For that reason alone, it's like music to my ears.
1. On my Thursday mornings when I have work but no kids I still get up early—but to total silence. This must be what a monastery sounds like and I think of joining. The sound of my coffee beans grinding is as gnarly as it gets. For that reason alone, it's like music to my ears. I'm in a great mood because I can take a spin class before work. For me, sweat is medicine and I need an overdose.
2. If it's a weekend then I am in stay-cation mode. I wake up and do my favorite thing: bring my computer in bed and work. First, of course I'll have plenty of Facebooking and internet stalking time. Maybe I'll throw in some Amazon shopping JUST BECAUSE I CAN. There's no time to waste on useless things when I have my kids, and for whatever reason, this time is vital to me.
3. I slow down. While it's a given that I have a million things on my to-do list and a work load that feels like I'm getting a Ph.D., when I don't have my kids, the list feels do-able and I almost get excited to attack it. I can start my writing fresh and early and I feel the joy in my work, unlike the manic mornings when I am getting two kids to school.
4. I sleep in. This is perhaps the most luxurious of all. Not only do I sleep in, but I linger. I know there are moms out there whose partners let them sleep in, but there is something about lingering and only having me to take care of. It feels like I'm in college again when I decide that at 8 or 9 a.m., it's time to mosey out of bed.
5. I can have a "sleep-over," which is code for sex. These are the mornings when I am reminded that sex is what made us moms to begin with. The very rare mornings when I allowed Manboy X to sleep over (rare because I so need No. 1 through 4 above) proved to be super-revitalizing and wickedly fun, at least until it became clear that nothing, not even a sexy morning romp, is as fun as waking up alone to silence.