At 6:35am, Maria finally decided she’d better get up. She could definitely use another 5 minutes of sleep…another tap to the snooze button…but she’s already hit it 6 or 7 times. It’s actually become frustrating. The entire process of the loud, obnoxious beeps, and the quick and scattered searching around for the button to shut it up, seems chaotic to Maria. But this is her way. This is what she knows. This is her every weekday morning. The internal struggle adds to the stress. She knows that the continuous 5 more minutes doesn’t actually help her feel more rested when she eventually rises. It’s not like she actually falls back into a deep, rejuvenating sleep for that time. But it’s necessary. Staying in the security and warmth of the blankets, and putting off the inevitable confrontation with the day isn’t a choice for Maria. At least that what she thinks.
‘Oh shit!’, she thinks…and actually says out loud as she sits up too fast and gets to the edge of her bed. She remembered that she forgot to make her son’s lunch for school last night. So…Maria quickly scurries downstairs and fumbles with all of that.
The last possible minute that Maria and her son can be out of the door is 7:27am. She’s done that before…and still had him to school on time…still was able to get herself to work on time. As the lunch is somewhat put together, Maria starts yelling upstairs for her son to wake up. It takes a lot of yelling…and reminders that they’re already late. ‘Don’t make this worse than it already is,’ she tells him when he groans, ‘leave me alone’.
The next 40 minutes are an absolute flurry of activities. It’s rushed showers, makeup, searching for clothes in laundry piles, arguing and pleading, coffee making and washing the travel mug. But somehow, they get into the car at 7:25. ‘Thanks for rushing,’ she says as she hands her boy a breakfast bar, and jams her java into the cup holder. But then, ‘Oh shit!’ she says again, ‘I have to run inside to grab a book for Alice.’ Maria just remembered that she’s meeting her friend today for lunch, and that she’s letting her borrow a book.
An inviting and subtle piano song begins to emerge from Alice’s alarm clock. When she hears it, she slowly rolls to her back, cracks a bit of a smile, and with her eyes still closed, takes a full and deep cleansing breath. The smile doesn’t just come naturally…it is a deliberate and conscious effort from Alice…but one that helps shape the rest of her day. During the intentional breath, she practices gratitude…and each day either wishes fulfillment and happiness on someone close to her, or considers how fortunate she is to have particular people or things in her life. Today, it’s her cousin that she focuses on…and she wishes him strength through the divorce he’s going through. Then she gently sits up, turns her alarm clock off, slides her feet into her slippers, and with good posture and another intentional breath, she thinks, ‘feet on the ground’.
It’s now 4:16am. Alice peeks into her son’s room on the way downstairs. She drinks a glass of water, and heats some for tea. While it’s steeping, she covers it to retain the heat…and she grabs her pillow to sit on for meditation. She brings the tea and pillow close to the wood stove that her husband stoked late last night before leaving for work. After placing a couple more pieces into the fire, Alice sits…and breathes. She meditates for about 10 minutes, then starts sipping her tea and writing in her journal. She checks her calendar and confirms again that today is her lunch date with her good friend Maria. Alice smiles again, thankful for time with her friends. After some stretching and a 15 minute yoga session that she follows on her TV, she showers, gets dressed, makes her bed, and does makeup and hair. It’s 5:40am. ‘Ooh, I can read my book for 20 minutes,’ she thinks. So Alice cozies up in her chair, near the fire again, and settles back into this story that she loves.
Her son has been doing better with getting himself out of bed at 6:00am, and showering and getting ready for school…but he’s still young, and she still enjoys being part of that first moment. So she’s sitting on the edge of his bed when his alarm starts. More gratitude is practiced here, and only a parent knows that feeling of watching their little one hatch into the day. It’s magical.
Alice tells him that she’ll get breakfast going while he’s getting ready. He comes down to scrambled eggs and toast…some almond milk. They discuss what’s happening at school today, and that ‘Dad will be picking you up from basketball practice after school.’ Alice cleans up the dishes while her son watches Sportscenter. Then she brushes her teeth, let’s the dog out back, and checks the clock. It’s 6:52am. ‘Ooh…20 more minutes with my book!’ she thinks. She’s able to sit again and read.
After warming up the car, each of them grabbing their lunches and bags that were prepared last night (and Alice confirms that the greeting card she’s giving Maria is there), Alice drives her son to school. He’s getting to the age that he doesn’t like the hugs and kisses on school grounds anymore…but after she tells him she loves him and he’s walking away, he turns and says, ‘thanks for that breakfast mom…it was really good.’ Alice nods, and drives to work a little teary eyed, feeling confirmation that she’s ‘on the right track’ and that the extraordinarily challenging effort that she and her husband are giving to this parenting thing…is truly paying off.
Alice is waiting at the deli when Maria storms in a couple minutes late…on her cell phone. ‘Oh, I forgot something in the car…be right back,’ she says as Alice was standing up to give her a hug. Maria does eventually finish her call soon after returning, and they finally get to greet each other with a hug and a friendly exchange of a good book…a sweet card with heartfelt sentiments.
They grab their soup and sandwiches. After catching up a bit, the conversation becomes weighted by Maria’s complaining about other people in her life, and how her son doesn’t appreciate anything she does for him. She complains about her job, her lack of motivation, and how she’s always tired lately. ‘I don’t think I’m getting enough sleep,’ she says. Alice and Maria then compare night time schedules and routines. Maria laughs at the fact that Alice gets to bed at 8:45pm every night. The differences are even more evident and when they compare their morning routines. More laughing and now some coarseness from Maria. ‘Are you kidding me with that morning? 4:15am? Who are you…the Dhali Lama?
Alice smiles for what seems like the thousandth time already that day…and says, ‘Your morning makes your day Maria.’