Centering Around the Chaos
When you have small children, the morning centering routine has to come early. Real early.
By 6:15 a.m. every day, the door to my bedroom bashes open, banging like it’s been kicked in by some overzealous detective on a TV crime show. It’s my 4-year-old, clutching her “spirit animal”—a pastel, fluffy unicorn pillow. Through the magic of LED lights, it is illuminated, glowing in the pre-morning pallor. My daughter’s diaper (yes, we’re still there) is soggy and droopy, her hair standing on end, smelling like warm straw. I clean her up and cart her down the stairs, her body draped around me in that completely trusting pose only small children can strike.
Young ones frequently rise before dawn, and parents everywhere cope by blearily switching on coffee makers and cable television. Those more self disciplined than I will wake up at 5 a.m. and do yoga or go for a run. But for us mortals, is there any hope of a morning centering routine, in the midst of “Seasame Street” and sippy cups? Ah, but there are ways. Here are my favorites.
Behold, The Sunrise
When I open the curtains, I see blazes of purple and pink, turning the sky into a display of my daughter’s favorite colors. “I like both dark purple and light purple,” she observes. True, they are both grand.
I never used to see the sunrise and now I get to witness it every day.
The Element of Sound
As my daughter plays with her castle and plastic horses, I listen to the sounds of birds invoking the day. People pay good money for ambient spa-like music, but I get the real deal.
Digging around in my fridge for orange juice or milk, and pulling out fresh fruit, I am reminded how much plenty there is in my life. I take a moment to feel grateful that I have such an abundance of nourishing things to feed my children, and clean water to put into their cups.
Emptying the dishwasher allows me to revel in the rhythm of life. It’s like the tides: Filling, washing, sorting. Filling, washing, sorting. I bend and stretch, reaching for a cabinet and slowly awakening to the present moment.
“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” I think to myself, and try to turn the early morning hours into something productive. I’ll do quiet, relaxing activities like wrapping a birthday gift, sorting the mail or ironing a shirt, all while keeping my non-Sleeping Beauty company.
“Snuggle with me!” my daughter demands, from our sofa. “A real snuggle!” She means, Stop that puttering and hold me. And so I do.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is a freelance editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Her book for young readers is Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever.