My entire life as a mom, I have woken up earlier than I wanted or needed to get up. I have two built-in alarm clocks named Mazzy and Harlow who both hate sleep. They fight bedtime at night and then they me wake up before the sun rises in the morning.
When it was just Mazzy waking up super early, we would take her into bed with us where we could get at least another hour of sleep all together. When she got older and couldn’t fall back asleep, we would get her a sippy cup of warm milk and put on a TV show while we dozed beside her. It was nice.
But once Harlow was born, that was all over.
Harlow does not like to come into bed with us in the morning, mainly because we cannot serve her waffles there. She’s hungry when she wakes up and wants breakfast immediately. Even in moments of desperation when I’m like— can you just eat a waffle in bed with us? She looks at me like I’m temporarily insane (which I am) and very clearly states, “I WANT MY WAFFLE IN THE LIVING ROOM.”
So then Mike and I go back and forth debating who will be the one who drags their ass out of bed at 5:45am to make Harlow waffles. This game of chicken goes on until Harlow gets impatient and the person who can’t stand Harlow’s whining more, loses. That’s usually me.
Then I take Harlow into the kitchen, make her waffles (which requires the very complicated task of defrosting them from the freezer). I do this while she sits on the counter because Harlow will not have it any other way. When the waffles are ready, I set her up on the little table next to our couch. She likes her waffles cut in four, served with a side dish of syrup and a cup of water. She wants her blankie draped on top of her so she stays warm. All hell will break loose if she gets syrup on herself so I’ve learned to make sure her chair is all the way pushed in and there are napkins within reach for syrup emergencies.
Then I turn on Paw Patrol or Dora and Friends or Shimmer and Shine or whatever her VERY SPECIFIC TV request is of the day.
With Harlow settled and sucked into the TV, I’m able to lie down on the couch and doze off under a blanket. Or make a cup of coffee and sip it silently next to her. This has been our routine for so long that Harlow gets mad if I try to do anything other than sit down on the couch. She wants me safely curled up next to her waffles where she can see me.
Mazzy usually hears the television and wanders in around 6:30am and snuggles with me under the blanket. At a certain point, Harlow finishes her waffles and joins us too.
All this before 6:45am.
I always thought this was a bad thing. Why do my kids wake up so ridiculously early? Wouldn’t life be so much better if our day started an hour later?
But now I realize there are also benefits to early risers. Since our mornings start early, we are not in any rush. We wake up slowly. Take our time with breakfast. Adjust to the idea of the day ahead. I don’t really start getting anyone ready until 7am. At that point, I’m in charge of Mazzy and Mike is in charge of Harlow. Mainly because Mike can’t do Mazzy’s hair.
Mazzy and I leave for school a little after 8am and Mike takes Harlow to school closer to 9am.
It all worked out just fine.
UNTIL WE GOT ALL SCREWED UP BY WINTER BREAK. Two full weeks without school and a trip to Jamaica in the mix.
When we got back, I had no idea our mornings would turn upside down. I mean, we had gone on vacation before and nothing had changed. My kids don’t even do anything different on the weekends. And I know everyone always complains about daylight savings time, but that never really effects us either. They’ve gotten up before sunrise every day for as long as I can remember.
Last Monday morning, I opened my eyes in bed, saw the light streaming through the windows and a wave of confusion fell over me. Was Mike up getting the kids ready? No. He was still asleep next to me. Were my kids fending for themselves in the living room? No, it was dead silent. WHAT WAS GOING ON???
I picked up my phone from the night stand and realized it was 7:30am. WHAT??? This was the equivalent of sleeping until 1:00pm back in my childless days.
I shot out of bed, totally disoriented and somehow even more exhausted than normal, and ran into Mazzy and Harlow’s room, where I discovered them both fast asleep. I climbed Mazzy’s bunkbed and for the first time since I’ve had children, I tried to nudge my baby awake.
“Mazzy, you have to get up.”
She didn’t move.
“Mazzy, it’s time to get ready for school.”
Nothing. I stroked her hair.
This must be what it is like to have a teenager. I physically tried to turn her over.
“Mazzy, it’s 7:30am. You have to get up.”
“Noooooooooooo. I’m too tired.”
Yep, that’s how I have felt every day for the past six years.
I forced her to wake up and then the really awful part started. Because we couldn’t gradually adjust to the day while cuddled in front of the television drinking “nice and warmy” milk. We had to get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair and run out the door. IMMEDIATELY.
Not only that, but I had to get ready at the same time so I wasn’t there for her to lean on every step of the way. Mazzy was confused and tired and had no idea what the urgency was all about.
And then Harlow woke up, cranky as ever, and Mike started bumbling around half awake making coffee and it was clear— THIS WAS NEW PARENTING TERRITORY.
I found myself hoping that this was just first day back wonkiness and that the next day, our early rising schedule (the same schedule I have cursed for years) would be back to normal. But unfortunately, the same thing happened every day last week.
Mike and I woke up after 7am, had to wake Mazzy and Harlow up and then rush two unwilling participants through our morning routine. There was more crankiness and whining from the kids and more yelling from Mike and me. Mazzy and I missed the bus or almost missed the bus every day.
And now, as I sit here on Sunday night, wondering what is going to happen tomorrow morning, I realize I have to do something I haven’t done in six years.
I have to set an alarm.