Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Anatomy Of A Long Morning

Pre-morning: Intermittent dreams are broken up by faint rumbles of thunder and short bursts of pounding rain. In the next room, Mia is coughing, coughing. Hacking and mumbling in her disturbed sleep. Mama also sleeps fitfully, thinking every rush of rain or wind is an attention-needing child.

Early morning: Silence from children's bedrooms teases Mama into the dangerous just 5 more minutes pit. She finally rises much later than expected, and dashes into a quick shower...standing under the warmth for a few precious seconds longer than she should.

Morning: Lauren's already finished her cold cereal and yogurt while Mia begs for more sugar on her strawberries. Lauren catches on and stands at Mama's legs waiting for de-stemmed berries to be passed down. She bites into each berry in a way that causes ruby red juice to stream down her chin, and onto her white pajama top. Mama doesn't mind; pajamas can be stained; berries are too luxurious a treat in mid-winter to bother with squelched joy.

Faces are washed, noses are wiped, clothes are put on.

Mama washes last night's pots and pans, keeping an ear out for the telltale ripped-paper sound of a Christmas package being tampered with. She repeatedly rounds up a darting toddler and her illegal booty. Mia watches Sesame Street in fits and starts, finding more entertainment in tattling on her sister. She runs to the bathroom for a potty break as Mama occupies Lauren on the kitchen floor with a washtub full of dish-soap bubbles. Sweet, tiny hands plunge into the dry bubbles, and clap the white foam with half glee, half concern: the bubbles are harder to remove than she thought. She hastily wipes her fingers all over the towel before returning to the tub for more handfuls of foam.

In the bathroom, Mia is yelling for Mama to help wipe. But Mama is tired of wiping a 4 year old girl who always manages to wipe successfully when Mama's not around. Mama puts her foot down and declares that TODAY is the day Mia will not be helped anymore with wiping. Mia also puts her foot down, refusing to wipe. She sits on the toilet for 20 minutes, yelling and ordering, demanding a wiper. Mama encourages and supports, perhaps teasing a little about all the fun bubble-play being missed out on because of this stubborn streak. Mia's resolve breaks: she wipes, washes her hands, and runs to the kitchen only to find that the tub of bubbles is depleted. She shouldn't have wasted so much time throwing a fit, Mama says. Maybe she'll get to play with the bubbles next time. Mia allows herself to be hugged and sniffed by a Mama who sometimes wonders who this child is? And why is she so angry sometimes?

Noses are wiped, teeth are brushed, music is turned on.

Mama hauls out the gift wrapping supplies, spreads everything out on the floor, and commences with an impossible task: wrapping a present attractively while being 'helped' by two enthusiastic little girls. Mia places tape on broad pieces of paper, entirely missing the seam that needs to be closed. Lauren grabs the roll of snowman-festooned paper and tries to make a run for it, but the long roll of paper gets lodged in a corner and she trips. Mama rescues Lauren, wondering if it would have been best to first remove the tempting paper roll and then comfort the naughty child. Meanwhile, Mia has grabbed the scissors and is cutting out 'cookies' from the scraps of paper on the floor. Mama finishes the first of 4 presents. She swats hands and confiscates scissors repeatedly. She fantasizes about gift bags.

Lauren has sat herself down at the kitchen table and uncapped 8 markers. Her hands are tie-dyed with color, and she's drawn a few scribbles on a drawing of Mia's. Mama warms a wet wash cloth and scrubs creased knuckles and round palms. Afterwards, she kisses fingertips and pretends to munch on wrists. Lauren's hearty chuckle fills the kitchen. Mama is happy.

A diaper is changed, noses are wiped, snacks are prepared.

Mia decides to build a bird's nest -- out of couch cushions. She piles every pillow, cushion, and afghan onto the big couch and forms a semi-circle around Lauren, who is chuckling again. Mia crawls into the nest; she and Lauren pretend to sleep. Mama smiles at the fake snores and deep breathing interspersed with shhhhhh's. Mia morphs into a fierce, snapping alligator, tearing the bird's nest to bits. Lauren snaps threateningly, and the two girls chase each other into a bedroom.

Mama begins sorting pink and purple laundry to be washed. Lauren wanders in and scoops up an armload of clothes. She totters into the laundry room, pleasing Mama immensely. Ken'taWeechIt! Lauren complains, pushing the clothes as far up the side of the washing machine as she can. Mama lifts her toddler up, helping her drop the clothes into the water, and sneaking a deep breath of baby-head on the way back down. Lauren spies the open dryer, which is still full of clean clothes, and grabs a piece of laundry. She tosses it up into the washer. Mama now realizes why she can never seem to finish the laundry. Lauren runs away for another armload while Mama empties the dryer. Upon returning with dirty clothes, Lauren sees the empty dryer and, since it's more reachable, dumps her pile into the dryer. Mama decides Lauren's help is cute, but detrimental to the overall goal, and closes the laundry room door for the time being.

Noses are wiped, noses are wiped, noses are wiped.

Late morning: Mia is perched on the countertop, stacking towers of spice jars while Mama rolls out Pigs In Blankets for lunch. Christmas carols are playing, Lauren is back at the kitchen table, babbling over a picture book. Mama supervises while Mia sniffs a group of candles, and they discuss the merits of a berry scent over a pumpkin scent. Mia's hands are sooty, and there's a smudge across the bridge of her nose from burying it in the candle jars. Mama warms another wet washcloth and scrubs long, delicate fingers tipped by scratched, pink fingernail polish. Do you know how much mama loves you? she asks, and curls the long ends of Mia's hair around in her hands. Mia quickly answers in the positive and rushes on to the next subject. Her stream of thought flows fast, but Mama is still marveling at perfection of her miniature nose -- her fragile bones.

Daddy stops in on his lunch break to retrieve a forgotten item. Daddy! Home! The girls cling to him like snow on a cheek: melting on impact. He doles out hugs while Mama packs up cheese and crackers for his snack. He builds a hasty domino house with Mia, kisses each of his girls, and leaves again as quickly as he arrived.

A potty break is taken, this time with no question of who will wipe: success.

Hands are washed, noses are wiped, missing socks are replaced.

Lunch is on the table, and two hungry girls are excited: hot dogs! A special treat! Mama slices a red bell pepper into rings, hoping to sneak in some nutrients among the unhealthy fare. To her surprise, both girls beg for more peppers. Mia's always loved them, but this is a first for Lauren. Mama tries to behave nonchalantly, not wanting to spook Lauren's desire for a crunchy vegetable, even if she is dipping it in ketchup. By the time they're through, half the pepper is gone. Mama is happy, and passes out bananas for dessert.

Both girls race into Lauren's room and climb into her crib. They pretend to sleep while Mama cleans up the lunch table. They each have a baby doll, and are rocking and shushing them to sleep. Even they know naptime comes next.

Bedrooms are darkened, toys are picked up, teeth are brushed. A diaper is changed, noses are wiped, stories are read. Songs are sung. Snuggles are snuggled. Sleep tight's are whispered. Doors are closed.

Mama kicks up her feet and rests. With any luck, she won't move for the next hour and a half. And the only nose she'll wipe will be her own.

The day is halfway through.


  1. What a beautiful look into the day of a Mama. Your words are smooth, and full of grace...I'm sure your actions are the same. :)
    I find stubborness, routine, helpfulness, and delight in my days too.

  2. Sounds chaotic and absolutely lovely :)

  3. It's a crazy life, that's for sure :)! Hope you have great Christmas!!

  4. So busy and peaceful. And full of clean, dry noses! Your ability to convey just how much you truly feel fulfilled in this season of life is wonderful. And a joy to read for me!

  5. I needed a nap about halfway through when I realized it was still morning in your tale. This is why I work outside the home...staying home with children is too exhausting! :)

  6. Whose morning are you writing about here? Mine or yours...?

  7. Wow, I really enjoyed reading that! Such a sweet life.

  8. A beautiful description and you must be exhausted by mid-morning! Buon Natale from Sicily. xx

  9. I love being a mom! Hope you have a good Christmas!

  10. I love it. The beauty of being at home and caring for with your kids, mixed with a little bit of stress and frustration. Just the way it should be. :-)


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?