Mornings are a madcap time in many households, I wrote in the opening lines of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (out in print Tuesday August 27!). Like mine.
Last Friday started promisingly. I woke up — sans alarm — at 6:15. None of my kids were up yet. This is a relatively new development in my life, that I might wake up before my children without severe sleep deprivation, and I’m savoring having more control over how my mornings start. I lay there thinking about things for a while. Life, the universe, everything. I got up at 7, and made a few notes on book promotion, at which point I heard my 22-month-old daughter. I went upstairs and got her. We went back to my bedroom to say hello to Daddy, who had just showered and gotten dressed. As we were talking to him, our 3-year-old came in. Since he’s normally the one who sleeps late, we remarked upon this and got the bright idea of all going to wake up the 6-year-old (normally, the first one up).
So we all bounded over and jumped in his bed. He didn’t react well to this. He has trouble with accepting things he didn’t expect (trust me, I know where he gets this from), and so he howled “My bed!” He kicked his brother. I expressed some surprise — we were just trying to have fun! — and disappointment in the kicking. Then my husband carried the 3-year-old and I carried the toddler downstairs to get their cereal.
That’s when the real howling started. My husband went back up to see what the 6-year-old’s problem was. My son insisted that he needed to talk to Mommy. When I came back up, he was crying huge tears, sobbing into his pillow, and said “I really did want you all to be in my bed with me!” I explained that now his brother and sister were eating breakfast, and he started crying louder. He continued crying and screaming through breakfast, lamenting that he would never have this opportunity again, until finally we did go back up to his room after breakfast and lay back down in his bed. But then, “No this isn’t right — this time I’m not surprised!”
Oh, the drama. By the time I left to go for my run (at 8:15 — 2 hours after I’d woken up) I was emotionally spent. And we weren’t even trying to get the kids dressed to go anywhere. That fun will start in another week.
But even on tough mornings, there are ways to keep trying to make the most of these hours. There are moments to celebrate, too. I enjoyed thinking through my day before it happened, given what a day it was going to be (it ended in a hotel room in New York at 2 a.m. — but that was yesterday’s post). I think it’s worth it to attempt silly moments as a family, even if some family temperaments are a bit on the fragile side. And we did eat breakfast as a family — important, since my husband and I were going to be gone that night — even if there was a lot of screaming during the breakfast. Inch by inch, you eke out the victories you can.
The good thing about mornings is that the next day always brings another chance to get it right. Morning by morning you get a chance to try again. What success before breakfast means is waking up relishing the possibilities of the new day, whatever messes happened on days before. These first hours are hopeful hours. Sometimes the hours don’t transpire quite as you pictured them, but then there’s always tomorrow — or maybe the day after that.
In other news: My book, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, is out Tuesday! This book compiles my three bestselling short ebooks into one volume, and also contains new bonus material: several time makeovers and dozens of time management tips. If you’ve read the ebooks, thank you — and please consider buying the paperback as a gift to a friend, or as a gift to yourself. I still think it’s fun to hold books in my hand!