Mom’s Search for Meaning in the Morning

November 4th, 2021


Finally, the Halloween festivities are finished. We went big, with Trunk or Treat, trick or treating, the Hoots and Owls event at VINS, and letting the kids watch The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown — during dinner, no less.

We take long hot showers and wash the face paint off, then try to wind down for bed, because it’s a school night.

Phoebe is very busy in the closet, going back and forth with armloads of pillows and stuffies and random stuff. Then things get very quiet, so I check in. “What are you doing, Pheebs?” 

First, she flips out, because I moved a cushion from her fort, and then she tells me she is sleeping in the closet. I am too tired to argue. I also can’t see her or reach her, way back in there behind storage bins and a laundry basket full of spare coat hangers. She might be in Narnia by now for all I know.

I decide to let her sleep in the closet. Jon questions this decision but isn’t invested enough to actually do anything about it, so she stays in the closet. I know this complacency will come back to bite me, and it does, when she wakes up in the middle of the night and noisily fights her way out of the closet bunker to get in our bed.

Musical beds — a big part of our nightly ritual and one which I am often the victim of. Even though we upgraded to a king-sized bed this summer, which was the best decision of all time, I still cannot sleep in it with more than one other human. As soon as the first child joins us, I typically migrate to her twin bed in the other room, where I pseudo-sleep with the dog until the morning alarm.

For this reason, I am never my best in the morning. Sometimes, we are on time to school. Other times, not so much. I used to make pancakes and scrambled eggs on weekday mornings before braiding my daughters’ hair in all sorts of imaginative ways. Now, I serve them toast in a box in the car, and the hair stays down, their choice. We are almost always missing something when we get to school — a mask, water bottles, jackets, shoes. More than once, the teacher has come up to me to gently inquire if Eliza has boots or a coat today.

This week, it’s been even harder to get to school because my daughters are showing a newfound passion for learning to read, which I cannot resist cultivating, even though it mainly manifests at 7am. Yesterday, they each brought a book into my room to practice with. Phoebe had a whimsical children’s book about flowers. Eliza got a hold of the book I am currently reading, Learning in Public, which is one woman’s memoir about her decision to send her white kid to a mostly Black public school in Oakland. It might be a little over her head.

Not as much as the book she picks after school, though: The Way of Zen by Alan Watts. The following morning, it’s Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I laugh when I see this, although it really seems wrong that Man’s Search for Meaning is the butt of the joke.

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Obviously, they are not really absorbing the context of these books, anyway. They are just feeling their way through sounds, and that’s so cool. It has long been a dream of mine that my daughters would discover the magic of reading. I am still not sure they are going to be bookworms like their mama, but they are starting to get it.

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