Morning Has Broken

A play-by-play of one mom's a.m. routine.

By Asha Dornfest
5:30 am: Alarm clock sounds Blindly search for, then press snooze button. 5:38 am: Alarm clock sounds Press snooze button, more quickly this time. 5:46 am: Alarm clock sounds Hit snooze button hard with palm of hand causing alarm clock to fall off nightstand. Noise causes baby to stir in the next room. Lie perfectly still and restrict breathing. Baby stops stirring. Husband farts. 5:48 am: Get out of bed Shower. Coffee. Must have coff—dammit. Luke has no socks for school today. Contemplate if sandals can be worn in Portland, Oregon in mid-November, reject this idea. Laundry. Must put in a load of laundry. Grab hamper out of closet, shuffle downstairs to the kitchen, put on the kettle, carry hamper downstairs to the basement to put in a load of whites. Washing machine is full of wet clothes, forgotten from the day before. Prepare to move wet laundry to the dryer, but dryer is full of dry, wrinkled clothes from the day before. Sigh. Move dry clothes to empty basket on the floor, wet clothes into dryer, load of whites into washer. Turn on washer and dryer. Head back upstairs to kitchen. Coffee. Must have coffee before Mimi wakes u— 5:56 am: Kettle whistles Rush to turn off kettle while glancing nervously at the baby monitor. Exhale: whistling has not woken baby. Fix coffee. Get newspaper from front porch. Briefly wonder if exposing breasts by bending down to get paper while wearing oversized, terrycloth robe. Return to kitchen to drink coffee and read paper. Ahhh, coffee. Mmmm. Let’s see…Mt. St. Helens threatening to erupt again…possible hydrogenated oil/arteriosclerosis connection…what? Rain today? Dammit, I was going to weed during Mimi’s nap. My God, look at all these Christmas ads, it’s not even Thanksgiv— 6:02 am: Baby cries Dammit. Wait, hoping baby is having minor nightmare and isn’t actually waking up. 6:03 am: Baby cries, louder; four year-old stirs Dammit! Quickly prepare bottle of milk, rush upstairs to kids’ room. Tiptoe past stirring son’s bed to deliver bottle to baby in crib. 6:04 am: Baby happily drinks bottle, four year-old stops stirring Exhale. Gaze at baby. “Morning, sweetie.” Too damn early for you to be awake, but look at you…growing so fast. “Drink up, hon – all done? Okay, sweetie, let’s get you changed.” Lift baby onto changing table. Notice diaper pail is fragrantly full. Must remember to empty the pai— 6:12 am: Washing machine buzzer sounds Must remember to put the wash in the dryer. “Cutie-cutie baby!” Luke needs socks. “Tickle the tummy!!” Change baby’s diaper. Pick up baby and tiptoe past four year-old’s bed. Floor creaks loudly. 6:14 am: Four year-old bolts upright in bed, scolds mother for making so much noise, then collapses back on pillow, snoring. Exhale, heart thumping. Make way downstairs with baby, carefully avoiding creaky areas in hallway and stairwell. 6:20 am: Prepare baby’s breakfast of cut banana and instant oatmeal. Feed baby, scan newspaper, sip tepid coffee. Ew, coffee’s cold. “Have some banana, sweetie.” My God, they still publish Judge Parker in the comics. Does anyone read it? “Banana! Yummy, yummy banana!” Dear Abby is written by Abby’s daughter, because Abby died, but the column’s still called Dear Abby. Freaky. “Sweetie, eat the bana—no! Don’t throw the banana! How about some oatmeal? Mmm, ummy, nummy oatmeal! Here comes a spoonful of oat—“ 6:35 am: Dryer buzzer sounds Socks. Luke needs socks. “Here, sweetie, take the spoon. Mommy has to put the wash in the dryer.” Baby delightedly bangs spoon on high chair tray. “Happy, happy baby! Mommy’s just going to the basement for a moment! Good banging, sweetie! Mommy will be right back!” Head toward basement stairs. 6:36 am: Baby cries “Swee-tie! No, sweetie, it’s okay! Mommy just has to get socks for Luke in the basement. Mommy will just be one minute. Bang your spoon! Bang, bang!” Baby looks skeptical but stops crying. Taps spoon on tray. Please, God, let this entertain her for the 45 seconds it will take me to get the wash into the dryer. Smile stiffly at baby while backing away, then quickly turn toward basement stairs. 6:37 am: Baby cries Sigh. “Okay, sweetie. Mommy will stay upstairs. Let’s have some more oatmeal! Yum, yum!” We’re almost out of brown sugar, have to start a grocery list. Where are the Post-it notes? Write “brown sugar” in the margin of the newspaper comics, then, after a pause, write “milk,” “bananas,” and “peanut butter.” What are we having for dinner tonight? Write “pizza” in the newspaper margin. “Ahhh! Open wide, sweetie!” 6:55 am: Four year-old wakes up, sleepily drags himself and his blankie to the bathroom, then pads downstairs and into the kitchen for breakfast. Ruffle four year-old’s hair and hug him. “Good morning, Mr. Man! How you doin’?” Four year-old stares blankly ahead, slack-jawed. “C’mon, have a seat and I’ll get you some cereal.” 6:57 am: Prepare breakfast for four year-old; wipe down baby with damp paper towel and release her from high chair. Baby crawls to kitchen cabinet, opens a low door, sits down comfortably on the floor and begins to systematically empty cabinet contents. Four year-old, staring, silently begins to eat breakfast. God, maybe the kid needs coffee, too. Coffee! Where’s my coffee? Spy mug of coffee, now cold, sitting on the counter. Sigh. Turn on stove to reheat kettle. 7:02 am: Kettle whistles. Carefully stepping around baby and Tupperware baby has removed from kitchen cabinet, fix second cup of coffee. Mmmm, coffee. Sit down to join four year-old for breakfast; poke four year-old’s shoulder. “You awake yet?” Four-year-old continues to stare ahead, mechanically moving the spoon from the cereal bowl to his mouth. Guess not. Begin to drink coffee and read paper again. 7:04 am: Smell of poop wafts through kitchen Sigh. “C’mon, Mimi. Let’s go change your diaper.” Get up, head toward baby. “Luke, I’ll be right back, hon.” Four year-old looks up, suddenly wide awake. “MOMMY! Wait, Mommy, don’t go! I want more juice, more juice, more JUICE!” Sigh. “What do you say, Luke?” “I say MORE JUICE!!” “Luke, remember the magic word? What is it?” “Please. I want more juice PLEASE!” Turn toward refrigerator, retrieve orange juice carton and refill four-year-old’s glass. Four-year-old begins to slurp juice in noisy gulps. “What do you say, Luke?” “Good juice. I mean, thanks, Mommy.” Turn back toward baby, pick her up in preparation for diaper change. 7:06 am: Baby screams, protesting removal from Tupperware jungle “La, la, la, la! Diaper change, diaper change! You smell like a big turdy-turd!” Look wistfully at coffee mug, which sits, cooling, on the kitchen table. “Be right back, Mr. Man. Finish your cereal.” Four year-old has already returned to half-awake state, staring ahead and spooning Rice Krispies into his mouth. Head upstairs with baby to change diaper. Pass master bedroom, hear husband stir, still asleep. Head to kids’ room. Clean baby, then try to force dirty diaper into the pail, which is now full to overflowing. God dammit. I forgot to empty the pail. Shove the diaper with moderate force until it barely squeezes into the pail. Smell of poop is released throughout the room. Wedge diaper pail top closed. There. I’ll empty it later. 7:11 am: Return to kitchen with now-clean baby, return baby to Tupperware jungle. Notice four-year-old is done with breakfast. Empty cold coffee into sink. Place unread paper in recycling bin. “Okay, Mr. Man. Clear your dishes and let’s get you dressed.” SOCKS! Dammit, I forgot the socks. Notice baby is engaged arranging Tupperware in piles on the floor. “Luke? Your socks are in the laundry. I have to put them in the dryer.” Mentally calculate how long the socks will take to dry. “They should be ready in time for school. Go brush your teeth while I run down to the basement.” Four-year-old senses an opportunity. “I need help brushing my teeth! Can I watch Rolie Polie Olie instead?” Sigh, not wanting to argue this early in the morning, especially before having coffee. “Sure, Luke. Just this time, though, we don’t usually watch TV before school.” Four-year-old happily sprints toward TV, then expertly operates TiVo remote and selects his favorite show. 7:13 am: Rolie Polie Olie theme begins; four year-old settles self and blankie comfortably on the couch, staring. Turn on stove to reheat kettle, then sprint downstairs to washer and dryer. Feverishly remove clothes from dryer and shove them into the laundry basket, already full with the previous load of unfolded laundry. Note pair of black socks present in this load. Transfer load of whites from washer into dryer, turn on dryer. Grab black socks from laundry basket and race back upstairs to the kitchen to find baby happily smearing her hair with congealed globs of oatmeal from the floor. GOD DAMMIT! Thank God I don't have to drive Luke to school today. Note four year-old is still staring at Rolie Polie Olie. Thank God for TiVo. 7:18 am: Run water for bath, undress baby, bathe baby, dry baby, take baby upstairs for a fresh diaper and change of clothes. Lay naked baby onto the changing table, prepare to fasten new diaper. At least you’ll start the day clean. “Clean little baby tushie! La-la-la!” 7:28 am: Baby pees Jesus. Remove now-wet diaper. Fold it into a compact ball, look at full diaper pail, throw diaper on floor. Change baby into a new, dry diaper and dress baby. Grab clean outfit for four year-old. Remember, with satisfaction, that clean black socks are sitting on the kitchen counter. Head downstairs. 7:33 am: Rolie Polie Olie ends “Time to get dressed, Luke. Here are your clothes.” Four year-old regards choice of outfit with disdain, but, surprisingly, takes clothes and prepares to dress self. “Mommy, there’s no socks.” Sprint to kitchen and grab clean black socks from kitchen counter. Triumphantly hand socks to four-year-old. “Here you go. Now get dressed.” 7:34 am: Four-year-old wails “These don’t go! I’m not wearing a black shirt, see? I have to have white socks! WHITE SOCKS!” Jesus Christ. “Luke, the white socks aren’t done drying, they’re still damp. Wear these to school today -- no one will even see them.” “They WILL. When I sit down…my pants come up, and…and… people can see them. And they DON’T GO!” Tears begin to roll down four-year-old’s cheeks. “I n-need white socks, Mommy.” Four-year-old sniffs loudly. Sigh. Rummage for TiVo remote; turn on Teletubbies. Baby squeals with delight, crawls over and plops on the floor in front of the television and begins staring. 7:37 am: Sprint upstairs to master bedroom, knock into bed, noisily open drawers and grab pair of women’s white athletic socks. Commotion wakes husband. Husband sniffs loudly. “Nggh. Morning.” “Morning, hon.” Run back downstairs to deliver white socks to four year-old. Visibly relieved, four-year-old trots off to the bathroom to dress himself. 7:39 am: Prepare four year-old’s lunch, place it, along with his coat, by the front door. 7:47 am: Husband comes downstairs, showered and dressed, looking refreshed and ready for the day. Husband frowns slightly. “You look tired, sweets. Have you had your coffee? I could stop by Starbucks on the way home.” Sigh. “Grande nonfat double shot latte would be great, thanks.” Husband heads to the bathroom to help four-year-old brush teeth. Husband and four-year-old emerge from the bathroom and walk toward front door. Four-year-old tips head up for a kiss. 7:50 am: Kiss four-year-old, help him with his shoes and coat, hand him his lunch, and pat his butt. Kiss husband. Watch from the open front door as husband and four-year-old skip to car. Baby crawls over, grabs leg and pulls herself to standing. As a result, pajama pants slide down over hips, exposing nasty, stretched-out panties to neighborhood. Pull up pants, pick up baby, watch a puff of steam emerge from exhaust pipe as car warms up. Go get ‘em, Mr. Man. It’s a new day. 7:53 am: Car pulls away from the curb 7:54 am: Dryer buzzer sounds -- Editor's Note: holy shit, I need a nap after reading that one. Pass this along to all those that think staying home with the kids is a cakewalk.

Asha Dornfest lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, son, and daughter. She has written several books, the most popular of which is FrontPage For Dummies (Wiley). She now concentrates on documenting the complexities of domestic life. For a look at what she's up to, visit her in Ashaland.

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