Our mornings

Mar 13

My girls come find me in the mornings.  Sometimes I’m in bed, sleeping.  Sometimes I’m in bed, reading, praying, thinking.  Sometimes I’m working out in the basement.  Sometimes I’m drinking tea in my word room.

I almost always hear their little feet approaching before they make contact.  I always smile at their approach.  I love my quiet alone time, yet I miss them enough — even after just my short night’s sleep — to smile every time they come pitter-pattering to me.  Motherhood does strange things to a person.

Greta always pushes her face into me.  As I think about this now I don’t know if it’s my smell she’s seeking, or if she’s encouraging my arm to go up and over and around her.  It is closeness she craves and her oh-so-softness is something that is lovely in my mornings.  She’s buddy-buddy in the morning; attached to me or to her sister or to Brad on the weekends.  Greta mornings are for snuggles and “connersations” and not-so-much for individual pursuits.

She’s my workout sidekick.  In the same space as our exercise equipment, I also have a few bags of too-small little girl clothes that I procrastinate in giving away because I am a sentimental shmuck.  Whilst I am working out, and therefore distracted, and breathless–therefore speechless, Greta’s habit is to root through the bags until she finds an appropriate “workout outfit.”  She then strips down and dons the new duds.  She’s then ready to join in the workout, which means I share my yoga mat between my 5’9″ self and my 3’4″ daughter.  It’s a tight squeeze.  She creatively Greta-fies exercises into her own interpretations.  She is exuberant.  We’ve edged past the point where the inefficiency and ineffectiveness she brings to my workout is exasperating me and moved into a season wherein she actually makes working out more fun.  It’s pretty awesome to have an oddly dressed three-year-old minion hanging out in the mornings.

Maren always wakes with a mission, and is always compelled to ask me for permission to complete said mission.  She’s been operating this way for years.  Every morning she hugs me or snuggles, then promptly asks, “Can I make myself a blueberry bagel?” or “Can I finish my chapter of Little House in the Big Woods?” or “Can I go write a story about covered wagons?” or “Can I go finish my Lego veterinary hospital?”

Every time, every time, I say, “Yes, sweetie.  Sounds great.  Knock yourself out.”  And off she goes.  I can’t recall ever once saying no to her morning mission.

She whirls off on her mission and is lost for an hour in her own world.  Our school starts relatively late, a wonderful thing for Maren’s mornings.  She loves leisurely mornings because she can get more done.  The clock or her hungry tummy brings her back to us before crunch time, and then she’s the rule follower again.  She moves through her morning checklist with practiced speed; she hates to be rushed and is mature enough to start early to avoid the rush.  She even makes her lunch if either I ask her to, or if my procrastination makes her feel like it might not get done in time.  Golly, she really is a pretty self-aware kid.  She’s entered into that amazing age where I do believe she’s more helpful than work.  I’m not sure I thought that age would ever come when she was a busy-busy-busy toddler.  I’m so proud of her, and one of my favorite ways to encourage her these days is with lunch box notes.

Our mornings also have notes of deep trying-not-to-be-angry breathing as Greta painstakingly (emphasis on pain) selects her outfit of the day, and ouch-what-did-I-just-step-on, and hair-brushing shrieking, and not-those-black-pants, those-black-pants.

We’re not perfect and our chaos is real.

But the tenderness and love we have for each other is more real.  It defines us and is the language of our home.  It’s these notes that I want to remember and write on our hearts.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.  –Psalm 143:8


  1. Lisa Smith /

    Love love love this. Love you!

  2. peggy /

    I read this and was immediately transported back in time to when my own sweet children still came running to me first thing in the morning. It’s been decades now so those memories are faded and crinkled but apparently they are still there. You’re very wise to write down your morning routine so years from now, when those mornings aren’t quite as blissful, you’ll be able to reread this post and smile. You do make all the ordinary moments extraordinary. I love reading about them. ♥p

  3. Karin /

    Your kid stories make me smile about my own memories of those toddler moments. I shared your blog with someone in hopes of encouraging another cancer mama with small ones. Press in to Him Jen, He touches hearts through you.

  4. Oh, how I wish I could have read your words when my own children were this age. I’m not a morning person and your writing encourages me to appreciate each little thing — exasperating or not.

  5. Oh, this reminds me to try and be more patient with my brood in the mornings. Without fail we are always rushed, and I nearly always have to do battle with Collin to get us out the door close to on time. I will try harder to appreciate our mornings a bit more this week!