What’s your morning personality?
Systematic Riser or Morning Sloth?
If you lean toward the latter, I can identify. I confess I don’t have a morning routine. Not in the slightest.
I am a wayward morning sloth.
My husband, on the other hand, observes a daily morning ritual that baffles me:
Every day upon waking, Justin heads to the stove. He sets his favorite fry pan on the front element and switches the knob to low.
Next, he starts the coffee maker. While it’s percolating, he gathers his uniform and other necessities for the day.
A small mound of cheddar cheese is sprinkled on half of a whole wheat wrap, and the oven is preheated.
By now, the coffee is ready. Justin pours himself a cup and heads for the couch where he sits for approximately 7.25 minutes, relaxing and checking the weather on his I-phone.
Then, back into the kitchen. Justin cooks and assembles his cheesy egg breakfast wrap and eats it at the dining table, along with a tall glass filled with half cranberry juice, half water.
Finally, he grabs something out of the fridge for lunch, awards each family member a loving, morning trifecta (a hug and a kiss and a ‘good-bye’) – and he’s out the door.
I don’t get it. My mornings play out like this:
Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
I can hear early morning voices and clinking dishes.
I am mostly asleep, lying on my bed in my second-story bedroom. I don’t want to get up, but I must. So I plod down the stairs in a trance, wrapped in a graying white housecoat, not ready to start the day.
As I reach the last step, Julie hastens by. She is six going on twenty-one.
I don’t know why she’s up. Julie is enrolled in the afternoon kindergarten class and needn’t be awake at this hour. But, then, my children generally don’t sleep in past six o’clock, six-thirty – this is their natural rhythm.
Julie is parading (practically flouncing) around the main floor with the first four feet of a queen-size, fuzzy, brown blanket enveloping her like a robe. The rest of the comforter is trailing behind, effectively gathering last night’s supper crumbs.
I step over the tail end of her blanket and head for the loveseat. I am settling in and rubbing my eyes when Justin hands me a cup of hot coffee.
“Morning,” he says with a smile.
I watch him return to the kitchen while taking my first sip. Mm. Morning sustenance in a mug.
Julie, by this time, appears to be done her parade. Although still donning the queen blanket, her head is now buried inside the fridge-freezer drawer. She’s rummaging. Her bottom is jutting out behind her, almost entirely blocking the archway that connects the kitchen and dining room.
I hear Justin scraping scrambled eggs out of the stainless-steel pan; he is just finishing the cook and assemble stage of his morning routine.
I take another warm sip.
Tyson walks by. He is ten. Like his father, Tyson thrives on efficiency: he has already dressed and eaten, and is now hurrying to pack his lunch. I watch him squeeze between Julie’s behind and the kitchen cupboards opposite the fridge. He is on a mission to snatch the last banana muffin off the countertop before I wake up enough to pack his brother’s lunch.
Between Tyson and Julie, a kitchen blockade has formed.
And, of course, this is when Justin is done making his breakfast. I know because I can hear the strained patience in his voice as he says,
“Excuse me, Julie. Can I get through, please?”
Julie doesn’t answer. She’s still searching — probably for the cookies we baked last week.
“We ate them all yesterday at bedtime, remember?” I say.
Julie lifts her head out of the freezer drawer. “What!? They’re all gone?”
I still can’t see Justin around the corner, but I hear him. “Julie. Please close the drawer. I need to get through.”
“Julie, MOVE!” Tyson commands. He is still standing behind her at the counter. Having secured the coveted muffin, he is now peeling an apple for his lunch.
Julie shoves the drawer. She pulls the blanket higher around her shoulders and marches over to me. She leans on my arm. Her face is two inches from mine.
“What can I have to eat?”
“I don’t know,” I mumble. “I’m not awake yet.”
I swallow more coffee. Nuts. It’s tepid. I pout because I want to warm it up, but I don’t want to leave my cozy loveseat cocoon. I look into my mug. I want to ask Justin to top it up, but that would just be lazy, right? I ask, anyway. He obliges. He’s nice like that.
Julie retreats to her crafting corner, gathering supplies to bide her time. She knows me.
Tyson is finishing up in the kitchen, banging cupboard doors, and singing a Newsboys song.
Justin has returned to the table to finish eating.
Watching him, my heart drops a little. We – the kids and I – are the antithesis of Justin’s morning sanity. He is out-numbered: four to one.
Tyson walks into the living room and plunks onto the couch.
“Where’s Thales?” I try again.
Tyson shrugs, head already lost in a book.
“He’s still in his room,” Julie says from her corner.
Thales is nine. He’s relaxing instead of getting ready for school, and I am too morning-lazy to get up and drive him out of bed.
“Thales, are you getting dressed?” I yell.
A muffled voice answers from upstairs, “I… can’t… move…”
It seems I can no longer avoid my responsibilities. I force myself to get up, dragging my feet to the bottom of the stairs. “Get dressed! It’s seven thirty!” Then, I head to the kitchen to pack his lunch.
Five minutes later, thuds and clatters are coming from Thales’s room. My guess: LEGO.
“Thales!” I holler. “Are you getting dressed?”
I hear a drawer open and close, some shuffling and bumping around, and then stomping down the stairs.
Thales is beside me now, reaching for a cereal bowl from the cupboard.
“You have no socks on.”
Thales turns. He jumps back up to his room, two steps at a time.
I place his lunch kit – holding two granola bars, an apple, and a yogurt – on top of his school agenda. Duty completed.
I return to the loveseat with a fresh cup of coffee. I reach for my journal and Bible, losing myself in handwriting and the delicate sound of pages flipping.
Justin is done breakfast. He leaves the table to finish getting ready for work.
I remain lost in a world of words – until a foot bumps into my writing arm, sending pen scribbles across my journal page. Julie and Tyson are giggling and wrestling on the floor beside me. They’re tangled in the brown, fuzzy blanket. When did that start?
“Tyson, did you brush your teeth already? Are you ready for school?”
He doesn’t answer. I assume silence means yes.
Thales is back. With socks on. He pours himself Cheerios and milk and sits down at the dining table. But he doesn’t eat. He’s too busy drumming his fingers on the table.
Julie is screeching, “Hurry up, Tyson!” She wants to keep wrestling.
I am still in my housecoat on the loveseat.
Justin – my angel, my love – steps over the Sis vs. Bro World Wrestling Championship to kiss me good-bye.
I watch him through the window as he drives away in his Jeep Comanche.
And I wonder how he survives us.
I think I can do better. I’d like to do better. I plan to do better.
But honestly, some of us simply stink at sticking to routines and forming good habits. It might seem silly to you, but I seriously struggle in this area.
Thank God I can find encouragement in Paul’s humble confession:
“But he said to me,
‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
— 2 Corinthians 12:9
That doesn’t mean I give up altogether and blissfully wallow in a lazy pool of slothfulness. It does means that when I’m struggling, I can ask for help – again, and again, and again – and
On Tuesday, I was determined to try again:
I made Thales’s lunch before I sat down with my coffee.
So long, procrastination! I gave myself a little pat, pat on the back.
I tried not to yell. So much.
Quite mature. Pat, pat.
I was even dressed for the day before Justin left for work.
Attractive. Pat, pat, pat.
Tomorrow, I might try to work in a good tooth-brushing before Justin’s kiss good-bye. Won’t he be excited!
I think I deserve a pre-pat for that.
Now that you know my secret, what about you? Have you all but given up on healthy morning habits?
Try, try again, I say.
And while you keep at it, accept God’s generous grace for you. Even if you need TANKS-FULL of it. Like me.
Sara Jane Kehler