Things I’ve Said Before 8 A.M.

Many years ago, I had visions. Not the psychic kind, but visions of the hazy, idyllic joy my mornings would be filled with when I became a mother.

I’d picture the bedroom window open, early sunshine seeping in, warming the covers and shining in the wispy, free hairs that would frame my daughter’s angelic face. My son would bounce onto the bed with a race car or two, and we’d hear songbirds chirping as they welcomed a new day.

My husband and I would smile at each other, thankful, ever so sweet, as we listened to the carefree laughter of our little blessings.

These days, two kids into our marriage (some people measure their marriages by years, but it’s just as accurate to measure by number of children, as each child brings you to a new phase), my visions have — changed. These days, my visions are more like floating black spots dancing behind sleep-encrusted eyelids. These days, my visions are wrought with the terror that comes from being jolted awake by my door slamming open into the wall, and one or both of the children bursting in with news such as this:

“What happens if you keep eating while you’re throwing up?”

I find I’m not as confused as one would think, as once you become a mother, you gain the ability to go zero-to-fully-awake in point-three seconds.

But it remains frustrating to carry on these conversations about bodily functions and illnesses and for some reason death (what is the fascination?) as I’m trying to brush my teeth, serve breakfast and get the kids out the door. I would much rather start the day with a series of pleasantries such as this:

“Good morning, Son,” (in this vision, I am the first one awake, where in reality, I’d have to be up at 4am to accomplish that feat). “I was thinking of making blueberry pancakes this morning. How does that sound?”

Here my son would stretch, smile and leap out of bed to give me a hug.

“Oh, Mother! That sounds better than dinosaurs!”

I would walk away, primed with a morning plan, and two smiling children trailing me to their spots at the kitchen table. I would feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to start the day.

Instead, I wake up most days to a door slamming open and find myself saying things like this:

“Please don’t cough in my face.”

“Why is the water running?”

“Yes, I wiped all the poop.”

“Stop stepping on your sister.”

“I can’t put your shirt on when you’re running in circles.”

“No, I don’t know where your Band-Aid went.”

“Please put your shoes on.”

“We’re all out of small spoons.”

“What did I just step on?”

“Yes, we found your favorite barrette, but then you lost it again, remember?”

“No, today is not your birthday.”

“Please put your shoes on.”

“Your birthday is still a long way away.”

“Is that new underwear?”

“Please don’t joke about being dead.”

“Did you find the missing library book?”

“Please don’t walk with a bucket on your foot.”

“Why is the floor wet?”

“Now would you please put your shoes on?”

Despite this crack-of-dawn craziness, despite its light-years distance from my pre-children visions, mornings in my house are hectic, harried, often shoe-less, but they can be a lot of fun.

My daughter held up a seed from a piece of rye bread the other day and asked, “If we plant this, will a bread tree grow?” Then in the car my son chimed in with my complaining about the traffic, and instead of saying traffic jam, he said, “We’re in a traffic jail!” Same difference? And shoving a doll dress into my hands, my daughter asked me to put it on her favorite toy because, “Little Bear is going to scare the vikings after he gets on his dress!” Then one day she looked out the window, became thoughtful and said, “I do love my brother more than squirrels.”

So, no slow, hazy mornings with wispy wind-blown curtains in our house. More often than not the curtains get caught in the door as we rush off to school drop-offs and pick-ups, parties and play dates. In the end, in some ways it’s nice not to need an alarm clock. It just might be a little nicer if the kids toned down, just a tad, on the panic.

The other day, rushing into my room before sunrise, my son cried out at me.

“Mommy, does horrible mean a disaster?”

I blinked away the sleep fog.

“What?”

“Does hooorrrible mean a disaaaaster?”

“Um, sure. Yes. Wait — where are you going?”

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77 thoughts on “Things I’ve Said Before 8 A.M.

  1. Oh Melissa, this made me giggle! There is nothing like the fresh, daily insanity of under fives, especially at your house, from the sounds of it. Mornings can grow more civilized as your children do – my nine-year old is now a curmudgeonly old man until he’s had his first hot chocolate, and my fourteen-year old is zombie-like until long after the sun has risen – but the on-the-spot craziness of parenting never goes away until (I think, I’m guessing!) your children leave home. The conversations and decisions will change, but the point-three second response time required when you’re least prepared will still make appearances.

    I’m in awe of your diarist’s pen with what issues out of your children’s mouths each day (wasn’t thinking of the vomit here!). So many one-line zingers!

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    1. Thank you, Dagne! I jotted all these down in the span of just a few days. There is so much information that flows toward me on a daily basis that most of it gets tossed right back out! If I didn’t write these down, I’m certain I would have forgotten most of them. And as you said, they are worth remembering! πŸ™‚ Your “zombie” comment seems to be echoed below — though it’s hard to imagine, I’m sure we’ll get to that stage in the coming years.

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  2. Each and every one of these is/are priceless. Sounds like your mornings are full! My mother once said, “Enjoy this time (raising the girls). These are among the best moments of your life.” β€œIf we plant this, will a bread tree grow?” This is lol precious!
    Recently, I reflected upon the difference between minutes and moments. These are moments contained in the minutes before 8:00 AM, filled with the memory of morning sounds. Thank you for sharing so many quotable quotes out of the mouths of your children.

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  3. Very cute! And very much my house and i have triple every request like,
    did you find your shoes? 3 minutes later. did you find your shoes? again – did you find your shoes? of course, then i find the shoes and hand them over.
    here are your shoes, honey
    he’ll look at me blankly and just take them like he has no idea he should be looking for them.
    i need to have his hearing tested. or his brain… πŸ™‚
    thank goodness for coffee.

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  4. With a fourteen (going on twenty-one) and sixteen (going on ten) year old, my mornings start with me waking up, then (depending on the day) half hour to two hours later getting the ugghhhhh of zombies lol

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    1. Thank you! And you are definitely not the only one. πŸ™‚ I love these little things my kids say, and I love them even more now that it’s the middle of the day and I’m not being jolted awake!

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  5. Your post is so chillingly true. I love the random comments, especially the one about walking about with a bucket on your foot. Only a parent could come up with that!

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    1. Shoes — I would love to take credit for that one — as in it’s something clever that I made up for the post. But these are all things I really said! For some reason one morning what I was saying finally echoed back to me and I thought, “Dear Lord.” Then I thought, “I’d better write this down.” πŸ™‚

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  6. Hilarious but oh so true for the life of a mother of young children! So much for those idyllic visions of mornings. I love the way you paint such a vivid picture of your life with your family for us. It’s beautiful prose yet so real at the same time. And you know what I’m going to say next, don’t you?? Enjoy every slam of the door, wide-eyed question, and crazy fun-filled shoeless morning because the time for those slow refreshed and relaxed mornings will come soon enough. πŸ™‚

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    1. Too true, Mama’s, too true. πŸ™‚ And I know you can relate! Thanks for your kind words about the prose. I actually tried to get a job sharing stories like these in my local paper last year, but the editor said I’d have to do some part-time reporting as well (because of my background). I did try it, especially because a couple of people around town called me up and said they loved my mom stories — but I couldn’t swing the crazy hours of news-hounding with the little ones still at home. So for now, I’ll make extra sure I’m enjoying these slamming doors, like you said.

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  7. I love this post more than squirrels. It reminds me of the good old days when chaos ruled my house like a cranky dictator and I was awakened by exclamations like, “I just went potty in my socks!” Can’t wait for more …

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  8. So true! Hilarious, Melissa. I’d have to get up at 3 am in order to be fully awake before my son. I’ll have to ask my daughter if she loves her brother more than squirrels. That one killed me! I wish I could write everything my kids say down, I’d have endless material for my blog.

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  9. This is heartwarming and beautiful! The first two paragraphs of your entry…that’s what mornings of Cinderella and Snow White are made of! The rest is what we call “real life!” lol. But hey, we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we? **smiles**

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  10. Melissa if taking a summer off of blogging means one comes back writing like this we should all switch off WP and rush out the door.
    My congratulations on a perfectly put-together piece of prose which I read with fond memories of all those years of poop and pee and the joys of being a parent…

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    1. Oh Rosie, thank you so much! You’ve made me smile. πŸ™‚ And wow — good use of alliteration in your reply! All those “p” words. You hit two big things, the writing and the story. Writing: perfectly, put-together, piece, prose. Story: poop, pee, parent. πŸ™‚ So funny, but that is a lot of what parenting is about!

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  11. So true! I remember thinking we would take family picnics and walks on the beach. Little did I know that picnics would consist of scaring me with the latest bugs and beach excursions became sand-covered disasters usually involving someone having to go poop the second we get there. Ah, parenting.

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    1. Yes! See my comment above about the poop. But boy are you right — it’s always the second you get somewhere, especially if that somewhere involves being far from a bathroom, or in a snowsuit. πŸ™‚

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  12. I think you understand the secret of life: it’s noticing the seemingly unimportant day to day experiences that family life offers, and then finding the endless beauty within them! This piece was hysterical and I was soooooo able to relate!

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  13. What a great post! My son is 23, but so many of the things he did and said still radiate in my head and heart. And often, they are not at all the things I thought they would be.

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  14. It’s a good thing we can’t see the future, isn’t it? The contrast between our innocent visions and stark reality isn’t as jolting when we just have to make minor, daily adjustments. Then one day we wake up asking why the floor is wet, and it doesn’t surprise us all that much.

    Wonderful post, as always, Melissa. Too often, many of those moments we think are unforgettable somehow get forgotten. Your kids are going to love reading your blog when they get a little older.

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    1. Awwww… so sweet! Thank you, Charles. I’ve never really thought about my kids reading my blog, as they are still only learning their letters, but maybe you are right. Maybe someday they’ll revel in all these little stories about them. That’d be great. And memories are always more accurate the sooner you write them down. My sister tells me stories about her baby that bring back things my kids did as babies and I’ve already forgotten. Well, we’ve been over this. It’s “momory.”

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  15. Great post once again Melissa. I always like how the mother in you shines through the wonderful writer in you and gives birth to such beautiful pieces of writing. That comparison with squirrel by your daughter was hilarious. I was wondering your sons reaction to such a complement. πŸ™‚ Your words always take me to my childhood days, as my mom still complains about all those stuffs I used to do as a kid.

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    1. Thank you, Arindam! What a perfectly sweet comment. πŸ™‚ I wasn’t sure what my son thought of the squirrel thing, so I just asked him and he laughed and said, “That’s silly!” Glad I took you on a little stroll down memory lane. Oh — my son wants to add something. “I love my sister more than a dino!” (Those are his favorite. So that’s a big deal!)

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  16. This is brilliant. The shoes… Drive me mad every morning. Nowadays I have to shake my two awake in the morning though and I get groans of “I’m too tired” before the duvet goes back over the head!

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    1. I’ve heard that is what waits in the future. Such a polar opposite to where my family stands today. πŸ™‚ Hard to imagine, but I definitely remember myself as a teenager, and mornings held far less appeal than they did when I was a little kid. Thanks for the kind words!

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    1. Thanks, Becky! And yes, I know you can relate. πŸ™‚ A mom friend of mine is even more busy than usual at this time, as she’s moving. Her family came over for my daughter’s birthday party, along with many others, and when it was time to go, she picked up her son’s shoes and thought they weren’t his! She was so confused she confused him, and then none of us knew whose shoes were whose (say that five times fast).

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  17. Ha! I loved this! So great. Well… great in the re-telling…it’s the living of it EVERY day that I find difficult! Kids are great aren’t they.

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    1. Thanks! I’m so glad I took the time to write these things down. It’s so precious, and as you know most days can be really hectic! So having these innocent questions preserved is something I’ll treasure.

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  18. Hilarious! Melissa, you have a true talent for capturing the realness of life. Us Mommies who have been there can instantly relate and can really get a good laugh. And the Mommies coming up will scratch their heads and wonder what’s really in store for them. And all of us out here in cyberspace love your writing. LOL! And Thanks for the morning jolt. This post was as good as the slamming door! πŸ™‚

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    1. Ha! Thank you so much, Dor! I’m so glad you liked it, and I know you can relate! I still think of your little shoplifter story — what a great story that was! To read, anyway. πŸ™‚ The things kids say and do — just today I was talking with another parent at the preschool pickup and he brought up the Art Linkletter show. I’ve only heart bits and pieces of that “Kids Say the Darndest Things” segment, but I bet it’s out there on YouTube. I should look it up. Then again, I have my own show that runs every day, most times really early in the day, right here in my home!

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  19. The roller coaster world of parents! I used to imagine also my mornings of peace, lots of laughter, just looking at my wife’s eye, letting the world go by and just relaxing, my son telling me about his Lego creations but then comes reality of balancing work with activies from soccer, piano lessons , ice skating to grocery that seems not to end. Sleep becomes a luxury. But we love our family and in a heart beat we’ll do it all over again. Great post.

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  20. LOL
    I related with you: the same initial-golden-perfect dreams, the same confused mornings… Mostly, my visions and my days are pretty different. I think, however, we have this in common: our days are crazier and far funnier!… I do love my days more than squirrels and visions! πŸ˜€

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  21. That moment where you go from asleep to fully awake in zero-point-three seconds…priceless. Sometimes for me, it’s from unfocused to focused, but the skill is the same. What a gift of parenthood (and there are so many)!

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    1. You are so right! It’s a gift. A talent. Like I’m a super spy or something really cool. πŸ™‚ We parents do wear many hats, don’t we? However, you mentioned going from focused to unfocused — and for me I find I can just as easily go the other way!

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  22. Me and my husband are five children into our marriage and I relate completely to your post. I am often overwhelmed and exhausted on a daily basis but I wouldn’t change anything for the world! I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts:o)

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  23. The Vikings! Heheh πŸ™‚ I loved this! Lana is going to be a big sister (I’ve told no one besides the hubby the news because of my history with high risk pregnancies – I’m waiting until I’m in the clear and everything is a-okay) and I look forward to the very things you describe. I also envisioned beautiful mornings with near perfect children and stray-away hair around my daughters face. That fantasy went away as soon as Lana knew she could keep her hair short. And the mornings? Well, Lana is hard to wake up so I take advantage of the quietness and catch up on chores. My husband says “This is as perfect as it gets – so enjoy it before the teenage years come and the hair gets shorter/longer/uncontrollable, the kids sleep in longer and the chores getting done become something we wish for as we tuck ourselves into bed.” Lol πŸ™‚

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  24. Enjoyed reading this one! Made me smile. I’m expecting my first and am still remaining hopeful. I mean, there must be some parents out there that get the fantasy,,,,right?!

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  25. nope – no parent gets the fantasy – we get exactly what we asked for beautiful, normal, loving little human beings that can be annoying and brilliant all a the same time – welcome to motherhood!

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