We lived by the baby monitor when the Jordan and Shelby were little. I would carry it around from room to room, plugging it in as I went, just in case something happened. Never mind that the square footage in our apartment was about size of some people’s walk-in closets, or that I could hear my neighbors when they were listening to yet another Grateful Dead song, I was always afraid that I might miss something that Other Baby and Other Baby were chatting about in the mornings. It was nothing earth shattering, but listening to them babble about a doll brought a smile to my face. Jordan’s cajoling Shelby into flipping the light switch on and off and their resulting fits of laughter was generally my cue to get them out of their cribs.

When the girls would wake up, the routine was to bring them into our bed and snuggle for a few minutes. They would climb all over the place, occasionally biting on the back of the headboard, bounce for a while, and then slip under the covers until it became painfully aware that no one was going to sleep. Sounds blissful, right? Truthfully, they “snuggled” so I could get a few more minutes sleep. In actuality, they were climbing on each other, chewing on the headboard, jumping on my back, and then telling me to turn my head the other way because my breath smelled bad. Ah . . . motherhood.

Our morning routines have changed a lot in the past 20 years. It’s been less “momcentric” for quite a while now. Since 1999, they’ve gotten up well after I was up and moving, and they have been perfectly capable of getting themselves dressed, fed, and out the door since then. It’s changed a bit here and there, and for the most part, they’ve been independent from a young age. Granted, I didn’t go as far as my mom and give them an alarm clock as a kindergarten present, but you get the idea. When they got in high school, I would frequently wake up to messages scrawled on the mirror reminding me of things that needed to be done. Not exactly the best way to communicate, but at 5:30 AM it sure beats attempting to wake a sleeping teenager.

Today begins a new chapter for our mornings. Shelby left for Germany last night. I don’t think that a baby monitor will reach all the way to Hamburg, and I’m 99% sure that her headboard biting days are long gone (and if they aren’t I don’t want to know). She’ll have to get herself up and dressed and fed and out the door. And just six short hours later, her sister will go through the same routine independently for the first time in 21 years. I kinda wish that there was a baby monitor just for them so Jordan could whisper one more time, “Shelby, Shelby . . . do it again.”

Have your routines changed in the past few years? Anything drastic? Or have your changes been more gradual?  Perhaps you, too, leave messages on the mirror as a reminder in the morning? I’d love to hear about them as I face my first morning parenting a child thousands of miles away. I have a feeling that I’m going to need all the routine I can get for a while.




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  1. March 8, 2012

    jill…your story has left my heart aching, just a little…my eyes watering, just a little…and my nose running, just a little. i truly loved reading this and it’s funny i was thinking about routine this morning..i swear i was! i’m always up first…wake the 11 year old…take the dog out…put the kettle on for hubby whose alarm clock has been going off in 6 minute intervals for 30 minutes now…make breakfast for the 11 year old…make coffee for hubby…make lunch for the 11 year old…make tea for me…sit down at the computer…this is pretty much my start every day! Sure my boys can do all of these things by themselves but it’s what i do, what i like to do…like being on auto pilot! My morning routine was very different with my other boy who will be 25 next week…always rushing out the door…i didn’t want that this time around…there’s no better way to ruin a day than a yelling match before school/work. I hope you are smiling this morning and not feeling to sad, too lonely…if i could, i’d write a message on your mirror today…”smile mom…you’ve done a great job!”

    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      Ironically, there was message on the mirror from Jordan this morning when I woke up, asking me to wake her up before I left for work so that she could say good-bye . . . like that would ever happen. But the morning routines? Amazing how fast you can slip in and out of them.

  2. March 8, 2012

    I’m crying in Barnes & Noble. Thanks.

    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      More than happy to share the tears. I think part of the reason I drive to all the “events” (graduation, leaving for college, this) is so that I can’t really cry when I’m there because I have to drive.

  3. Liz Arocena #
    March 8, 2012

    that line “Shelby, Shelby do it again” got me and I just want to go home and wrap my arms around my 4 and 9 yo and cuddle them while I still can–made me tear up.
    It also made me look forward to the weekend with them:)

    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      Oh . . . it made me get all teary-eyed just typing it. And if you would have asked me that it goes that fast when they were nine, I would have told you that you were bat-shit crazy.

  4. Laura #
    March 8, 2012

    Hugs to you mama! A new chapter is beginning for all of you….

    Our routine has changed in the last few months. Michael wakes up on his own, goes straight downstairs, and makes his own breakfast. Celia has followed suit. It began around Halloween. I think he figured out he could sneak candy in the morning before we got up. Of course, he forgot to throw away the wrappers…so it was short lived. I sort of miss them crawling into bed with us in the morning.

    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      I missed them crawling into bed for the longest time when they were little, but then we settled into different routines like what to watch for a morning treat or where we would grab dinner. When I was a kid, my mom gave us strict instructions to wake her up about 10 minutes prior to the bus, so getting breakfast on our own was a relatively “do-or-die” situation.

  5. March 8, 2012

    Granted I’m incredibly sleep deprived, and my brain is bleeding from finals week, but I’m choking back tears in a shared office right now. “Shelby shelby do it again made my heart break right open.” Hugs indeed.

    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      Ack! I didn’t mean to make anyone cry . . . but that got her dad last night when he proofed it for me. Then again, we were both emotional basket cases, too, kind of like me telling my Allie/Ally girls about it this morning. But she made it there safe and sound and has made her first trip to IKEA for supplies.

  6. Kate #
    March 8, 2012

    As we say here in the South, “Why, bless your heart!” My first thought was of my own kids and their early morning antics in their cribs: our daughter throwing her pacifiers one by one across the room, and saying “Uh-oh” after each throw; our son standing up and rattling his crib rail, saying “momomomomomomomom” till it reached a crescendo. They’re now 18 & 12, and their morning routines have gotten a bit quieter, but oh, how I dread next fall when our girl goes off to college!

    Oh, how I feel for you—and that last line of yours about your girls is just beautiful.

    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      Leaving for college was a little easier because I knew that they were going together. It was never their plan, but they both settled on Temple and went off to Philly with one another. This? A little different. God, how I remember those “uh-oh” moments on the monitor. You could always tell how important the item was based upon the jumping on the mattress.

  7. March 8, 2012

    oh, mama! “Shelby! Do it again!” just floored me. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo There’s no baby monitors for that, but thank goodness there are cell phones ❤

    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      I can’t wait until the cell phone is straightened out. I’m pretty sure that she will get that taken care of tomorrow, so for now, we’ll get by on Skype or FB messaging. So far, so good . . . but it’s been less than a day.

  8. March 8, 2012

    Bahahaha, my kids are still pre-literate so there are no messages on bathroom mirrors between them and myself, but my husband and I leave each other messages scrawled on the shower walls with the kids bath crayons.

    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      And I think that is adorable beyond belief because my husband never got into the bath crayon business. I think we tried them once when the girls were little, but the crayons go so gummy that Dave threw them away. I use the markers on the mirrors when I know that I’ll forget something in the morning . . . and truly, I usually forget it anyway.

  9. Janet Vorst Dyer #
    March 8, 2012

    Your dad wrote the following. Not sure where it was: I don’t know who this new venture is harder on, you 2 girls or your parents but remember its ok to cry. I remember when your mother, aunts, and uncle left I had misty eyes. Just remember this is a part of growing up and maturing and everything will come to pass and all will be better and stronger for experiencing this event.



    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      I think we did enough crying for this trip, Mom. And considering that at least one of us will be able to have some amazing beer whenever she wants, I think she’ll be just fine. And her grandpa is a very wise man . . . but we already knew that.

  10. Janet Vorst Dyer #
    March 8, 2012

    I remember when each one of you kids left for the first time. It was a sad moment for your dad and me and it brought back many memories of when you kids were little. You had lots, like telling Erika if she stepped in the rain puddle hole she would fall to China; your dad and the Inch Worm event; letting Keith fall off the changing table; moving to another school and town knowing it would be the roughest on you; high school, college, babies and so many things. These all belong in our life changing moments that make us who we are right now, this moment, in our lives. Look how many more happy events will happen to you. Many books will be filled with these events. Love them all and Enjoy.

    • Jill #
      March 8, 2012

      Wow . . . reading them all together like that, I kind of come off as an asshole big sister.

      • Becky #
        March 8, 2012

        Rain puddle hole to china is amazing. I’m still laughing about that.

      • Jill #
        March 9, 2012

        Technically, there was no water in that hole. It was more like a hole left over from a tree extraction. Makes it sound better, right?

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