I used to be a night person. Not a morning person. I used to sleep in ’til noon if I had nowhere to be.
Now, although I haven’t used an alarm clock since becoming a mom, I am always the first person in my family to wake up. Strange truth. Groggily and grumbling, I head directly to the shower. My daughter soon enters the bathroom, and dawdles through her morning routine with a few reminders from behind the shower curtain to put the bath toys back in their basket, to leave her book outside the bathroom, to continue putting toothpaste on her toothbrush, to stop talking for a moment to remember what she’s doing. My partner will often wake, shower, dress, and make it downstairs before I have selected a pair of socks. I don’t understand it. Really. Is it my pacing or my daughter’s? After seven years of parenting her, it’s hard to tell the difference. Is that a boundary issue? Don’t answer that.
So… when my partner suggested hitting the Bourbon Trail this week with a mutual friend, it’s our morning routine that concerned me. What would we do without Mama?
“Should be an interesting morning with our short order cook on the road,” I texted my friend on Day One. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” she replied.
Over the past few years, my little girl has grown accustomed to my company while she’s dressing, and my partner’s breakfast-making prowess once she makes her way downstairs. With Mama out of town, she couldn’t have both. Which would it be? Would I feed my daughter, or chat with her in the bathroom? Hard to say. Typically, I get downstairs about ten minutes before the walk to school. If there’s time after hair-brushing, vitamin-piling, bag-packing and so forth, I eat breakfast. If there’s not time, I have a stash of granola bars in my desk at work — except that I bought some on Monday with a bag of new Halloween spiderweb cotton, and they never made it to my office — which I remembered when my friend came for dinner on Tuesday and discovered a granola bar, still wrapped and sealed, but crumbled inside its package in the middle of our bedroom rug. I blame the cats. Our dogs would have ripped open the wrapper. The rest of the box is still missing. I can’t remember where I set it down.
While my partner was planning her roadtrip, I relished the idea of some bonding time with the little pipsqueak. I wanted to fall into the rhythm only she and I together find. Maybe I’m missing those toddler years, where everything is new, every day bursting with new discoveries – a toe! a lampshade! cats have claws oh no! music! drums! Mami’s necklace! Or maybe I’m missing the days I walked my daughter to the corner grocery for a day trip, packing snacks for the journey and allowing her to stop for every leaf, insect, flower petal or blade of grass.
Instead, it’s a school week still, and a work week still, and the bell rings the same time each day. There are still twenty minutes of reading each night, math fact practice, worksheets and spelling exercises. Lunch-making. Coffee-preparing. School Picture Day. AND we have our house on the market with a crackerjack plan to downsize into a smaller suburban home and buy a vacation cottage before next summer. A summer paradise, a winter writing retreat, a springtime getaway, a place to dance in the leaves each fall. I remind myself this like a mantra. I’m trying to keep the house not-too-far from spotless, just in case we get another showing. It’s not too hard.
But on Day Three, when she sent me photos of a beautiful stone wall and wooden bourbon barrels from Kentucky, I responded with a bright red fire hydrant from Oak Park. She told me with a smirk through the phone, “Honey, I think you’re acting out.” Really? You think so?
Then she scheduled me for a spa day this weekend. A spa day. With a massage, and a friend of my own. And wine.
She doesn’t miss a beat. Thank you, Honey. I love you. And I’m glad you’re home!