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Sometimes I think I am being punished. By the SAHM karma. When I was younger I would gasp at the SAHM mom’s that would have mother’s helpers and complain that they never had time to do anything. Well I am here to tell you we got all the time in the world but not enough of it. I would love to complete a task. I find myself doing things at warp speed. I can unload the dishwasher in seconds and air walk down the basement stairs to get the clothes from the dryer. I am usually done with my meal as my husband salting his potatoes.
I even let things slide. Sure you can unroll the toilet paper into the bathtub. And heck you can even eat it if that buys me some time. The baby often goes into his older sister’s room and plays which is great and last for at least 20 minutes.

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You can crawl through the swept up breakfast as long as I can get you before you start eating it. And you can go outside on a misty rainy day and play in the mud so I can finish cleaning the kitchen.

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Mornings are actually my favorite time of the day. I love bed head, I love coffee. I love how much time we actually spend in bed before getting up.

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I love morning naps and how fresh and happy the baby is after one.

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I am going to be a happy empty nester, but I do want to remember what it was like.  Hearing the pants of my baby boy’s breath as he crawls all over me. The sound of three year old feet on hardwood floors as they make their way to my bedroom. The taste of baby cereal left on your lips making sure it’s not to hot. The sound of a cheerio crunching under your feet.

So how about you-anything you let slide so you can finish something..?

Suzanne

Skritch. Scratch. Skritch.

These are the sounds that I hear as I lay, not quite awake, hoping they’ll stop. They don’t. I know what they are. My 8 month old is on his belly grabbing handfuls of sheets, probably marveling at his hands and his own ability to use them. It’s only a matter of time until he grabs a handful of my hair and yanks. I’m just conscious enough to sweep my hair away from him. I lay squeezed in next to him telling myself ‘it’s the middle of the night. He’ll go back to sleep.’ I pause. Silence. I exhale. DADADA. My eyes involuntarily pop open and I see two big blue eyes and a big smile looking back at me.

Damn. Cute, but damn. I grab him, shift my weight over, and pull him to the other side. Then I try nursing. If it is the middle of the night that’ll eventually work and he’ll drift off to sleep. I feel him latch and again I feel relief flood over me.

It only lasts a second. He pops off to continue his narrative DADADA. I have a sneaking suspicion that despite my hopes otherwise, that my day is about to begin. In about 2.5 seconds his older brother is there, beside him. This boy takes some serious work to wake up on school days. Otherwise? All it takes is a peep.

About 2.5 minute after that- the cat joins us (she’s obese, it takes her awhile). I’m still struggling to get my eyes open. This is my morning, most days.

We make approximately 453,672 parenting decisions and for the most part I stand behind mine with unwavering conviction- probably to a fault. This one, however, the decision to cosleep, this one was the hardest one I’ve had to come to terms with. On paper I should be all about cosleeping- I’m the natural birthin’, baby-wearing, cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding type- cosleeping is just one more to add to the pile. Yet somehow this one seemed to come with the most pushback, the most judgment, and the most unsolicited feedback about how I was doing irrevocable harm to my child, and I was wholly unprepared for that. The first time around I spent years agonizing over it; I was told he would never self soothe, that he’d be in our bed until he was a teenager. It was all we could do though. it was the only way he (and we) could sleep. I lost pediatricians and friends over it. It made me constantly question my ability to parent “correctly.” It helped make that first year- a year that would have been difficult regardless- perhaps the hardest one in my life.

But now- now the oldest is in his own bed, in his own room, and I’m feeling confident in my ability, and my right, to tell people to shove it.  It works for us, and if I’ve learned anything it’s that that’s all the reason I need. So a family bed we have. A happy, cramped, hilarious, frustrating, family bed. What about you? If you have (or had) little ones around, do your mornings start out with an elbow or two in the eye? Are you a “nightmares only” kind of house? Or is it no way, no how, not in my bed? I promise I won’t judge either way- I’ve had enough of my share to go around.*

*unless your kids are sleeping in dog crates, then I’ll probably judge

In my house there are generally only very good reasons to be out of the house before dawn, or very bad ones.

We received the call less than a week before. Words that strike fear in every parent’s heart. Possible melanoma. We swooped our four year old boy out of school, took him to see Star Wars at the theater, and started mentally preparing for surgery in less than a week. I- the compulsive investigator who spends weeks researching even the smallest purchases-avoided the internet like the plague. Nothing to do but wait, and do my very best to pretend like none of it was happening.

We woke him up and packed him into the car while it was still dark. He had a stuffed lion, which he has only recently taken to, and four star wars lego guys. We made it back to our room at our children’s hospital and he bravely got dressed. The sight of him in his outfit knocked the wind out of me. So I did what I could. I picked up the camera. It gave me purpose, it gave me distraction. Thank you, photography.

I got in my own scrubs and carried him back to the operating room. How long had it been since I last carried him, and when did he get so big? Once there, he cried because he didn’t want to sit on the table. I exhaled into my mask and we made a game of wiping off the condensation on my glasses. It’s amazing I was able to pull that off when I felt like I could barely breathe. They put the mask on his face, and that was it. My job was done. They ushered me out and there was nothing left to do but wait. So wait we did.

I couldn’t begin to wrap my mind around how much had already happened in a morning when we’d normally barely be out of bed.

They wheeled him back to us and he was crying, and swollen, but good. We took turns holding the phone while he watched despicable me…waiting to see if he could keep food down, waiting to get the iv out, waiting for it all to be behind us. He asked if next time he came back, he could bring some donut holes for the nurse. We locked eyes over the bed and our hearts broke open.

One week later and our news was good- no melanoma, but I may be forever haunted by some of the conversations overheard in that waiting room. For so many families, that morning changed their life. I’d like to say our morning made me a changed woman, that I’m living in every moment, that I’ve stopped snapping at my kids, and I’m breathing in bliss and breathing out fear. I’d like to say these things but that would be a lie. I’m back, just one week later, to “pick up your markers, “stop squeaking that toy”, and “oh dear lord did I just kick over your milk that you put on the floor again?!” We have to, I suppose, enlightenment isn’t that easy to come by.  But every now and then, a morning like that one is enough to make me want to try to do a little better. Even if it only lasts a day (and it did).*

*I swear that I am not nearly this melodramatic all the time. I’ll circle back around to irreverence, once I shake this experience.