I don't feel blessed at 5:00 a.m. The baby is crying, the toddler is whining to be picked "uppy," and the big boy wants breakfast. The dog needs to go out, the dishes from last night crowd the sink, and the floor feels something like sandpaper dipped in honey. My eyes are groggy and I realize I forgot to buy coffee yesterday. I struggle to focus on the adorable kids in front of me and instead of frowning at the mess in my living room.
At 6:00 a.m. the house is quieter. Mickey Mouse is playing on the television, the dog is content, and the baby is calmly playing with a few wooden spoons at my feet. Instead of coffee, I'm sipping my diet coke. The floor is still sticky, but my feet are cradled in freshly washed socks, pulled from the pile I noticed my husband had washed and folded after I fell asleep, hours before the household chores were complete. I'm starting to feel okay. I am grateful to have a cold drink and soft socks. Relieved to have the life experiences to know that letting my two year old watch another thirty minutes of television is okay. And thankful I thought to pull out the wooden spoons.
By 7:00 a.m., I don't feel so alone. My husband is up, making a last minute lunch for our oldest. My sweet partner isn't complaining that I forgot to buy coffee. He pours himself a diet coke and dutifully begins his routine. I sneak away and take a shower, grateful for the hot water running through my hair. I smile at the laughter I hear echoing from the kitchen. I take a deep breath and remember that preschool drop off is only an hour away.
As 7:30 approaches, I am actually feeling good. Maybe not serene, but like the pieces of myself are coming back together. Order is becoming visible through the chaos. I clear the counters, knowing that the sight of an uncluttered kitchen will do wonders for my mindset. I get the kids dressed and spend a few extra minutes tickling the baby and reading to the toddler. Like I did at 6:00 a.m., I immerse myself in their needs, but this time, I do it with a smile on my face and with a gratefulness in my heart.
Before I know it, it is 8:00 a.m. and I pull into the preschool parking lot. The drive gave me time to get my thoughts in order. My mind wanders to the heaping stack of papers waiting for me in the office to grade. As I plan my day, I think about the morning. The moments felt so long, but in reality, I know that the hours I spent getting the kids ready for school will only make up a fraction of my day.
Did I hug my 9-year-old tightly? Did I give my toddler enough affection? Does my baby know how very much she is loved? I start feeling guilty for rushing through the morning.
We sit in the car and I catch my breath. I set aside the thoughts of student appointments and faculty meetings awaiting me at work. Everyone in their own seat, I feel neither crowded nor alone. I unbuckle the kids and we walk to their classrooms.
My mornings, they are long. Emotional. Messy. But these years, they will pass so quickly. I will miss the sticky floors, the request for "uppy," the feeling of being needed by so many, so often. I promise myself I will try hard to remember this tomorrow. But even if I forget, I silently urge myself to let go of the guilt. Because, as I sit here and reflect, I see the beauty in my morning rush. I silently thank my higher power for this blessed chaos. And I smile, grateful for my comfortable socks.
Stacey is a wife, mom, law professor, and photographer. You can follow her on Facebook.