The morning has not gone well.
I had hoped to get up early and write, something I rarely do, but hold as an option of last resort when my brain is too mushy to be creative after the kids go to bed. (And last night, my brain was mushy by 9:00 PM; I almost fell asleep reading “Amelia Bedelia.” Do you have any idea how hard it is to say Amelia Bedelia when your jaw is going slack? Try it. Amelia Bedelia. Amelia Bedelia. Amelia Bedelia. That’s almost impossible for me to say on the best of days.)
So. I set my alarm for 6:00 AM and hoped for a few blessed moments alone. To think. To maybe drink some coffee in peace. To hear the quiet.
But ‘twas not to be. The baby got up at 5:30, irritable and scowling, obviously not even sure she wanted to be awake yet. (“You and me both, kid,” I sighed to myself.) I spent the next hour trying to get her back to sleep. But she never settled. At 6:30, I gave up. I carried the cranky baby downstairs, the better not to wake her older siblings, and turned on the TV. Maybe “Blue’s Clues” could buy me a few minutes of peace.
But ‘twas not to be. The older kids, who are tuned in to such things, heard the quiet blip of the TV turning on and quickly joined me on the couch, rubbing their eyes and pleading for an early morning showing of “Special Agent Oso,” their new favorite show. Too tired and annoyed to stick with the household rule of “no TV on school mornings,” I flipped the channel and decided to take a shower before writing. Surely, in the shower, I could find a few moments alone to think and create and generally pull myself out of the Forest of Frustration.
But ‘twas not to be. No sooner had I gotten into the shower than the baby started playing Peek-A-Boo with the curtain. Then, sensing a weakness, she ransacked the cabinets, spilling all the Q-Tips on the floor and shredding the toilet paper, which I had neglected to remove from the holder before I got into the shower.
And on it went. The kids started fighting as soon as the TV went off. “He hit me! He kicked me and hit me and spit at me and he doesn’t even care!” I couldn’t decide what to wear. The dog sat in her kennel and looked at me with weary eyes, wondering if I was every going to get around to taking her for a walk. The baby picked up a bag of small balloons from the game Balloon Lagoon, spilled them on the kitchen floor and proceeded to throw handfuls of them down the air vent. (Better than eating Polly Pocket’s shoes, though. I think.) Connor refused to brush his teeth unless I helped him. Natalie pouted because I wouldn’t hear her case for “why brothers should get a spanking every time they hit me.” And because my husband, the barista in our family, is out of town, I had no coffee.
I was snarky and exasperated. Like the weather outside my window, I felt gray and hazy and heavy with irritation.
We drove to school – after I ran up three flights of stairs to get a pair of socks for the baby since I couldn’t find her second sandal. The older kids, feeling the tension, ate pretzels (also known as “breakfast” on mornings like today) and tried to make small talk during the drive.
More than anything, I wanted a do over.
Outside Natalie’s classroom, I knelt down and gave her a big hug and said, “You know I’m not mad at you, right?”
She smiled in a knowing sort of way. “I know.”
“And you know I love you, right? More than anything in the world.”
I put on the baby’s socks and shoes, and we continued down the school hallways to take Connor to his preschool class. I was deep in my thoughts, brooding really, when a parent going the other way said, “Wow, someone’s sure happy this morning.”
Ummmm. Excuse me? Happy?!?
Then I realized she was pointing to the baby. The baby, who had woken up grumpy and whiny, was now toddling the hallways, swinging her arms in front of her in a lighthearted fashion. Her eyes were twinkling and inquisitive. Every few feet, she would stop to gaze at the colorful pictures on the wall, remnants of the recent school art show. And at each stop, she would loudly sigh, “Ooooooo!” with a musical, deep voice, then shriek loudly, swing her arms some more and move on to the next attraction.
Yes. Happy. That’s what she was. She was happy. She was in the moment, not weighed down by a morning gone awry. She was awash in the joy of discovery, eager to see what might be around the next corner.
And in that instant, she did magic.
She gave me a perfect do over.
This post is dedicated to the box of Dora the Explorer Band-Aids that were destroyed while I wrote it. Because even happy babies need entertaining.
Kelly also writes at her personal blog, Love Well. That is, if she has enough Band-Aids.