That darn street light is shining in on me again through the curtain. Had I only worn that free airline eye mask. I can see it through the corner of my half-open gaze. I would, but then I get weird looks from wife, a roll of the eye. I’m weird enough as it is, no need to take that further with the eye patch. That street light is offensive. It’s 5:30 am.
Let me slide the snooze button over on my mobile. If I wake up before that, I’ll spend a few minutes meditating. Darn, 10 minutes have passed again. I’m going to do this anyway. I sit up on the side of my bed, place my hands on my knees and gently take a few deep breaths. Eight counts in, 12 out. My eyes are closed; I imagine a bright light emanating from my chest and engulfing my whole body. It hits the outer reaches of my head and toes until the entire space I inhabit is filled with a bright, warm glow. That goes on until my head tingles, a slight dizziness or lightness happens before I return to my breath. Mornings are great for this as I’m fresh. No impressions to spark my mind. One in, 2 out, 3 in, 4 out 5 in, 6 out, 7 in, 8 out, 9 in, 10 out. I perform a mental body scan from head to toe. My neck and shoulders are tense but my legs feel strong. If my legs are strong, it will be a great day.
It’s a great day. My mind wanders off, thinking about what I have on that day. Hold off, one more round of deep breathing, and then I open my eyes. There’s my phone, don’t touch it. Leave it, no need to look at it. There is nothing you’ve missed and nothing that can’t wait. Peeking may spike your stress levels as there is so much to do. I reach for a mason jar filled with water and half a fresh lemon squeezed into it. The cool, fresh lemon water hits the back of my throat. I get that same feeling, you know the one when you bite into a sour patch kid candy? That one. The elixir slides down my esophagus and into my stomach sending a wake-up call to my head. I just took a shower from the inside out. My gulping is loud. I’m probably going to wake the rest of the house with that noise. No movement from the sidelines. I slip out of bed and the room, leaving my wife, one child and Boston Terrier in bed. Lucy the terrier snores loudly; my daughter stirs but doesn’t wake. My wife is passed out.
I close the door on the way to the office to find my yoga mat like a carpet to the opening show: a daily 15-minute ‘mobility’ routine. It is actually Yin Yoga: poses held for 30 seconds and up to 5 minutes. I walk up to my laptop on the desk, log in and hit play. Great, I think to myself, a straddle. That’s just one of the six poses that await me. None of them have really appealing names. It’s done that way on purpose, you know. The seal pose, right, a cute animal when trained, but you wouldn’t want to hug one and don’t even get me started on the pigeon. Yeah, a discombobulating bird. If I think back to when I started doing this stretching 2 years, I realize I’ve come a long way. I’ll focus on that. But that straddle is the last move in that routine and I’ll need to stick it out for four minutes. I don’t care. I attack my weakness with extra patience and use the discomfort to practice deep breathing. I hate this pose, I can’t even lean forward properly. The time is up. I slowly and awkwardly move my creaking limbs out of the position to sit cross-legged in a meditation pose. More meditation, sort of. Gratitude. I give thanks for the air that I breathe, for being alive, for the abundance and joy in my life. For God. I rock back onto my heels, crouch like a monkey and stand up. I feel like a kung fu master. The sound of the shower brings me back.
Meg’s up and getting ready. It’s dark outside but inside I’m warm. Now that I have been in service to me it’s time to be in service to the rest of the family. I’m coordinated and focused. She’ll be out of the shower and put on her makeup which will take another 15 minutes. I head to the kitchen, which is tidy and ready for me to conduct a musical breakfast piece. No real music. Fill the water kettle. Switch it on. Grab a pan from the cupboard. Lunge for the fridge, grab eggs, butter and oat drink. Stop. I hear a little voice calling in the background.
That’s 2-year-old Linnea stirring as her room is adjacent to the kitchen. She wants her “shaky” – a special formula for kids with a metabolic condition called phenylketonuria, short, pee-kay-u (PKU). The water kettle is hissing. I put five scoops of coffee in the french press. Fill that up. Set the timer on the fridge for 5 minutes. I like my coffee just so, or it’ll start to get bitter. Trial and error I supposed, not a coffee-lovers chemical romance. I pull a blender bottle, sippy cup, the PKU mix out of the top corner cupboard. I weigh out the ingredients for the shaky, pour them into the cup and take it to her. A few moments to caress her head, she smiles at me, grabs the bottle and turns over and disappears under the covers. “I want mama.” Yeah, I know those words, but I got a smile, that will have to do.
Back in the kitchen, there are 3 minutes left on the coffee clock. There’s enough time to whip up some scrambled eggs, fire up the toaster and cut an avocado. Meg turns the corner in the to kitchen. I drop what I am doing, we look at each other and go in for a kiss and a long, warm hug that seems to sink in deeper with each breath. Beep, beep, beep, beep. Pulled out of that moment. The coffee can be plunged. I pour two cups, add some quasi-milk-drink, and we sit down for a few minutes to talk. Those are some of the most precious moments of the day. Just the two of us, no kids, no hassle no clock, no hurry. It feels like 10 minutes have passed but I can’t sit for very long as I’m energized and need to get breakfast going. Meg fills me in on the latest Trump madness. Pan heat to 6. Toast down. Eggs in the pan. The plates magically appear on the counter. I dish up scrambled eggs, two buttered slices of toast and that avocado. We sit down and enjoy the meal, sip coffee and laugh or commiserate about the great or shitty sleep we got. The dance with our hungry wolves will begin soon.
Here she comes. I can hear the pitter patter of feet in the corridor. At this point I’m up and at it again, prepping for the arrival of my eldest. She leans her head into the kitchen with a smirk then runs towards me for a hug. Everything right up to that very moment is intentional, my rules of engagement, my storyline but once the kids are up, it’s time to let go and follow their signs, keep things light, fun and moving. One thing is certain, Emilie will want Nutella on a tortilla to start her day. Beyond that, it’s an unknown venture every day. Until we close the door behind us to drop off the kids at daycare, it’s about improvisation. That’s the beauty of having kids, they turn my boring and intentional morning into an adventure.
I contributed this piece of writing to an ongoing project on Hitrecord called “on Mornings”. I saw the project brief and was inspired to write something. I’m reposting here but you can also view this piece here and like it.