Jane in the Morning
by Clara Stevens
Oh my goodness
In the car late
Not getting her own breakfast
Granola bar I guess
Jane in the Morning
by Clara Stevens
Oh my goodness
In the car late
Not getting her own breakfast
Granola bar I guess
Night is ever the seducer. He whispers in my ear and tells me I can do that one more thing before bed. He fills the night with a soft, quite peace and whispers promises of fun to be had. But Morning is waiting for me when he leaves and she is an uncompromising bitch.
Night makes all sorts of compromises. I can have fun with friends, or I can enjoy the solitude. I can read one more chapter, write one more story. I can do one more chore or have one more conversation.
Morning refuses to cooperate. Her schedule is inflexible. She demands productivity. Immediately. Compromise is not in Morning’s vocabulary.
I know this.
And yet… Night is always tempting and I am bad at saying no.
Some nights I try.
I try to resist his siren song and when I succeed I meet Morning on a level playing field, but other nights he fights back.
On those nights he hangs the stars so low in a moonless, clear sky you feel as though you could pluck them down. But, of course, you can’t. Still they hover above, another temptation in the dark, and the wanting gets to you and it makes you restless. If you can’t play with the stars you at least have to move. You have to sing, dance, love, cry, you have to feel those nights. Those are the nights filled with tossing and turning. Those are the nights that normally sleeping dogs pace the house and kids wake up with nightmares.
Night compromises but at his heart he will always be a seducer. He doesn’t play fair and he takes what he wants in the end.
And Morning, she is always waiting, hard faced and uncaring on the other side.
I’m constantly lured into poor decisions in my love affair with Night.
Morning and I exist on a battlefield littered with broken alarm clocks and spent tea bags.
But between them lives Nap and we have the sweetest of relationships.
I’m the terribly unsentimental mother who says the appropriate things about the priceless pieces of artwork given to me on Mother’s Day and then leaves them on the table for everyone to look at. I do this knowing full well that they will be ripped, spilled on, chewed on by a cat or eaten by a dog if we just wait a few days and then I can burn them guilt free in the wood stove while no one is looking. (Stop. Don’t judge. Don’t judge until you’ve been buried in your own flood of priceless artwork that required each kid less than two minutes to make. And if you are, and you’ve kept every paper your kids have given, kudos to you. And please be careful, those stacks of paper you are saving are no doubt reaching fire hazard level.)
But this year my Mother’s Day gift from Jane draws my eye every time I walk by it. I think about it almost daily when she and I are having discussions. It’s taken up residence on the wall in my office rather than someplace the dogs would chew on it’s popsicle stick frame. It is truly the most memorable gift she’s ever given me. It might even be a keeper.
Not because it’s so cute, or because I want to remember just how little and cute Jane was in the picture when it was taken or because she did such a nice job decorating it. No. It’s a keeper because I shake my head in incredulity every time I pass it.
“I love you because you let me have what I want.”
If you know Jane or you’ve been around here enough you may have gathered that she’s convinced she is something of a princess. This is not a character trait I try to encourage, quite the opposite, but I seem to be having limited success.
John saw her gift to me and jumped up and down going “OOO!!! OOO!!! You are the one giving her what she wants!!!” attempting to lay the root cause of our princess child’s behavior at my feet. I rejected that assumption and I have a story to prove that I do not in fact let her have what she wants, a morning story…
Here is how basically every school day Jane has ever been a part of has gone.
Me -“Jane, it’s time to get up and come down stairs and have breakfast.”
Me- (A bit later) “I’m making oatmeal/eggs/waffles for your sisters do you want some.”
Jane- (with a wail of despair) “I don’t know what I want!!!”
Me -” Okay, well come down and eat something before you run out of time!”
(Then yesterday’s chosen clothes are no longer fashionable/comfortable/fit and she has to find new clothes. I encourage her to hurry so she has time to eat.)
Me- (eventually) “Jane your oatmeal/eggs/waffle/food of some kind is ready.”
Jane- (exasperatedly) “I don’t want [insert any food item here] and I need (socks/pants/shorts/some other shirt/a ponytail)!”
Then she goes and finds socks/pants/shorts/some other shirt/a ponytail holder while her sisters eat their breakfast, put their shoes on and get in the car. Occasionally I give her a count down of minutes remaining and remind her about eating.
Jane finally appears at the door. Then she cries about something. Anything really, actual substance for cause of crying seems totally unnecessary. Crying is followed by demanding to know where her breakfast is, citing that all she really wanted was eggs/oatmeal/last night’s leftovers. I ignore all this and push her out the door handing her a granola bar to eat in the car.
Then I drop them all at school .023 seconds before the bell rings and the older kids get out of the car yelling at Jane for making them late – again.
It’s super fun.
90% of the school days this year Jane has run out of time to eat at home, demands to be allowed to sit and eat some random breakfast item at a time when we should be leaving and instead grumpily eats a granola bar or some such item in the car on the way to school.
Recently when I tossed a granola bar into the back seat she lost it.
“Why don’t I ever get breakfast? I don’t understand why this keeps happening over and over and over and over and over and everyday I don’t get breakfast and everyday all you feed me is a granola bar.”
All I could do was look at Ivy in the seat next to me with wide eyes and the two of us burst out laughing. (That didn’t make Jane feel better btw – put me in the terrible mother camp for that one, but it was early and I don’t do anything well early.) “I’m not sure either Jane, I’m not sure either.” I finally got out through my laughter.
Now everyday I look at that… “you let me have what I want.” and smile.
Maybe it’s her way of wishful thinking, if she believes long enough, and claps hard enough it’ll come true. In the meantime I’m going to keep it on the wall as a reminder that this girl may always, deep down, know that she is a princess no matter how the world treats her.
“Mr. Smithback is taking tardies really seriously,” Ivy tells me.
I try not to roll my eyes. Mr. Smithback should try waking up the morning Clara monster. Or finding Jane pants that are pants that she will wear, not the pants she chose the night before to wear because those ones, in the morning light, will clearly not do. And he should do this all while listening to Ivy yell at everyone that we are going to be late to school.
Instead I tell Ivy what I’ve been telling her every morning that she complains about the timeliness of her sisters. “If you want to be on time you are going to have to be helpful in the morning.”
In my mind this would constitute things like not sitting in the seat that Jane always sits in knowing that it will cause her to freak out and refuse to get in the truck. That girl should learn to be flexible but we should not have flexibility lessons before 8am. Perhaps being extra nice to Clara. Clara needs to learn that when things don’t go her way it’s not, as she says, because “Everyone is being mean to mee!!!” That girl needs to learn how to handle bumps in her road but we should not attempt to teach this lesson before 8 am either. And not demanding ridiculous things of her mother. Her mother hates the morning and always has. Talking is barely acceptable, don’t make ridiculous demands that will get you yelled at by a cranky mother and cause you to stomp, pout and sit on your sisters’ jackets that they are trying to put on. I, said cranky mother, probably need anti-morning cranky lessons but, let’s be honest here, that’s not happening at any time of day.
But, “Mr. Smithback is taking tardies really seriously.” So Ivy, bless her early morning heart, made a plan.
She and her sisters packed their bags and lunches the night before and asked me to put them in the truck. Ivy lined up shoes (with socks!) and jackets before she went to bed. She woke up earlier than the rest of us to dress herself make her mother a cup of hot tea (bless her early morning heart again), start breakfast for her sisters and wake them up.
The last two mornings I’ve woken up, sat and drank my tea in relative peace while Ivy fed her sisters and then I drove them to school.
Mr. Smithback is taking tardies really seriously and I love him, and Ivy, for that.
I’m very sorry children.
If, in the last week, you have lost life, limb or been sentenced to an eternity of floor mopping, you have my apologies.
I forgot the thing above all other things you must never do to a sleeping mother.
Do not ever touch her face!
I learned this lesson myself the day I tapped my mom’s forehead to wake her up.
It is true that tapping her head work her up.
It’s also true that to this day she yells at me for the time I woke her up by tapping her forehead.
Do not tap.
Do not gently pat.
Do not set paper snowflakes on eyelids
Do not, under any circumstances, lightly brush your fingers over her lips or eyes.
And, most importantly,
Never. Ever. Put your finger up her nose.
I can not guarantee your safety if any of these things are done to a soundly sleeping mother.
Apologies again for the late warning. I’m pretty sure that had I gotten just five more minutes of sleep last week, I would have remembered to tell you.
P.S. You should thank Jane for “reminding” me of the horror that is sleeping face touching, because heaven knows I didn’t.
In case you missed it here is last weeks Guide to a Sleeping Mother.
Pay attention children. It seems that many of you are unsure how to act around sleeping mothers. Today, for you, I have outlined just exactly what to do when you encounter a sleeping mother.
First we have identification.
If the mother is in bed under the covers with her eyes closed, this is called sleeping. It is unnecessary to call her name multiple times. If she’s not sleeping, she wants to be sleeping and should be treated as if she is.
It should be noted that sleeping mothers do not need things.
They are sleeping.
All they need is at least five more minutes of sleep.
Extra blankets, toys, and books are unnecessary.
Hugs are nice but will actually be appreciated later in the day and if snuggling with your mother means stealing both covers and pillow, skip it.
Tea, however, may always be quietly left by the bedside.
is not an awake mother.
This is a mother who has been badgered long enough that she has opened one eye to confirm which child will be scrubbing the toilet for the rest of the month.
Do not continue talking.
Under no circumstances should you demand anything.
In fact, unless you or someone you know is actively bleeding or something is on fire, drop off a cup of black, highly caffeinated tea and back quietly away.
No doubt after your considerate tea donation she will roll out of bed on her own. And once she is standing upright beyond the confines of her bedroom you may start your day of demands.
Now children, read, memorize and say thank you. This information could save your life, or at very least prevent a few extra toilet scrubbings.
I remembered the incredulity as I dropped the kids off at school this morning. The sad scorn I felt for those parents that would send their poor children off to a long day of school without a proper breakfast. They were heavy on my mind, those poor nutrition-less children and the worries that surround them. How could they make it through a day of learning and activity without a good healthy start to the day?
I was thinking about those deprived children because I had just watched in the review mirror as my own kids ate old stale Cheetos from a bag Clara found in the back. I had just thought how odd it was that they’d even want to eat something like that much less in the morning right after – Oh shit!
I forgot to feed my kids breakfast.
I dropped them off, wished them well, figured it was a good thing we never clean the truck and that Clara gets a snack within an hour of getting to school. Made a mental note to be nicer in my head to people because you never know what the circumstances might be and headed to the gas station.
I got out to pump gas and looked down at my slippers.
Moral of the story: Don’t judge, you never know what motherhood may do to you.
Other moral of the story: Some people just don’t do mornings.