On weekends and holidays, my kids are in direct competition with those chirping-ass birds to see who can be the earliest riser. The sun is barely peeking over the horizon before they’re seizing the day, prancing around like they slept in caffeine-infused sheets. They don’t understand the words “sleep in” unless those words are preceded by “can we” and followed by “in the living room” or “a tent” or some other random place that isn’t their beds.
But on school days, that boundless morning energy is conspicuously absent, their get-up-and-go nowhere to be found. Instead, they’re sawing figurative logs, sprawled out in puddles of drool, acting like those cheap twin mattresses are some kind of magic sleep-inducing feather beds. And I know that the next 20 minutes will be among the most stressful of my day, because damn, I despise this part.
Waking them up is just difficult on so many levels. First of all, early morning is one of the few moments when my house is actually quiet and serene, settled silently under a blanket of hush. Nobody is fighting or whining or listening to some kind of bleeping, blurping electronic device. So to disrupt that tranquil atmosphere — on purpose, even — feels so inherently wrong. Like blowing an air horn at a symphony. Like putting makeup on the Mona Lisa. Like putting mustard on chocolate pudding.
It doesn’t help that from the time they were babies, I’ve spent countless hours and done desperate things to keep them asleep (tackling the UPS guy so he wouldn’t ring the doorbell, contorting myself into odd positions and slithering out the bedroom door). I’ve used enough breath-hissing “shhh”s to fill up a hot air balloon (fleet), so to intentionally rouse them from a peaceful slumber goes against years of conditioning. The instinct to let them sleep at all costs doesn’t just evaporate when they become school-aged — unfortunately.
I start out trying to be nice. I open the curtains, let some sparkling sunlight in, hoping they’ll rise and shine as brightly as those first beautiful rays. “Good morning!” I trill cheerfully like Mary-fucking-Poppins. “It’s going to be a great day!” I stroke their arms and pat their backs and give their shoulders a gentle squeeze. In return, I get…nothing. Not even a single millimeter of movement. Bed-bound boulders.
So I step my game up and get a little louder, a little more forceful; my pats turn to pokes, my nuzzles to nudges. “Yo,” I say briskly, “time to get up.” From this, I might get a muffled groan if I’m lucky, but usually the response is them pulling the covers up over their heads as though that’ll make me go away.
In reality, all it does is piss me off, so it’s time to bust out my mean-mom voice, which is a combination of drill sergeant and evil overlord: “GET! OUT! OF BED!” By the time they open their eyes, they’re glaring. I’m glaring. We’re all glaring. I wonder if crashing an excavator through their bedroom wall like the Kool-Aid Man and forcibly scooping them from their beds would be frowned upon.
As if all that weren’t enough, it’s a school morning — so I’m not only struggling to wake them up, I’m also trying to do it on a timeline, racing the clock. If I don’t get them up and dressed and fed and out the door, it will lead to a domino effect of crappy events, starting with the catastrophe of me having to put on a bra and endure the drop-off line. It is precisely this fear that renews my determination to blast them out of those beds come hell or high water. They will not miss that damn bus.
So that’s what I do, five mornings a week, as much ass as it sucks for all parties involved. It never changes. They are consistently hard to usher out of bed each weekday. Once they come to their senses, they’re actually decent little human beings, and once my blood pressure gets back down to a tolerable level, we can get on with our morning routine. It’s smooth sailing from then on out…
Well, until they start complaining about their breakfast choices, the ingrates. But at least they’re out of bed and dressed by the time they do it.