24 September 2010

the new routine

I am a midday, as opposed to a morning or a night person. It takes me a while to get going in the morning, and I am happiest when in bed by 10.00.


I like to ease into the morning slowly, in silence, and darkness, which is not entirely compatible with family living. Spouses rise early for work, and young children often wake well before you would like them to. Because David has the peculiar habit of getting readying with the lights on, I have been known to stumble into the brightly lit bathroom like a wounded lemur, covering my eyes and grunting while he shaves and tries to chat me up.

My favorite part of the morning is the 30 minutes I spend alone with a cup of coffee, reading Andrew Sullivan or the newspaper. For years now, I've tried to be downstairs by 6.30 so I have 30 minutes to myself before the children wake. That this only happens one out of five mornings is besides the point; it is the sacred ideal to which I aspire.

Sarah started middle school this year, which begins at an uncivilized 7.50am. Never mind that getting up early is difficult for a child who prefers sleeping until 10, and who tried, admirably but without success, to get in the habit of waking early during the week prior to the start of school. My point is that this new routine has completely upended my morning ritual. Sarah's bus comes at 7.23, and so when I come downstairs she is already in the kitchen preparing her lunch. It is rude not to acknowledge one's children, and so I must say things like, good morning, how did you sleep, and you look very pretty today.

By the time my coffee is ready she is sitting down for breakfast, and I feel boorish retreating to the living room and leaving her to eat alone. And so I join her at the table. But then, there is laundry to do, and a dishwasher to empty, and I wind up sitting for only a few minutes before I am compelled to do some work, periodically stopping for a sip of coffee.

After a week of this, I decided that if David is in the kitchen it would be alright to retreat to the living room. And so I settled in the my chair in the dark living room, triggering the ass sensor, at which point Sacha appeared at the bottom of the stairs, warm, tousled, and smelling of sleep, wearing nothing but his briefs, demanding to snuggle. A mother is powerless to refuse. But instead of abandoning myself to Sacha, I tried to continue to read over one shoulder and drink my coffee over the other. Which is how I wound up reading roughly 150 words in a coffee-dampened robe.

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