On a given weekday, I deploy from bed once my gentle alarm app ignites the flashlight feature on my cell phone, activating something like a bat signal on my ceiling in an otherwise pitch-dark room. The chirping birds that are integrated into the alarm cue their wicked levels of perpetual happiness louder and louder. Because the closest outlet is beside my bookshelf two feet away, I keep my phone plugged there and sitting on the shelf overnight, which means that I must slide myself out of bed to acknowledge the alarm. The theory is that, since I get up anyway, I am incentivized to keep my feet shuffling towards the bathroom. Admittedly, sometimes I do shuffle–right back to bed–but that usually falls on mornings when Jrue had interrupted my sleep pattern overnight.
Once properly relieved, I begin the real morning business: getting the preschooler up to work our way towards the old schoolhouse. I mosey into his room and click on his desk lamp. He is a tummy sleeper and turns his head in the opposite direction upon my intrusion. He irritably whines and rolls around or jumps right up like a paper snake out of a can. There’s no “in-between” wake-up procedure. As I mildly coerce him to rise, I pick out clothing from his closet and direct him to my bathroom for cleaning.
Steering takes two minutes or 10. I am annoyed by the latter.
The hubs and I pull straws. Either the hubs bathes the boy and fights to brush Jrue’s teeth, and I formulate a lunch bag creation, or I do the cleaning and dad makes lunch. I don’t mind either way.
My back prefers lunch duty, though.
Fully dressing Jrue requires some errant finesse, as well. There’s the application of lotion and what is called “smell-good,” the tiniest dab of daddy’s deodorant at the pits. Jrue tries to make an escape after this initiative, or he is fiercely instructed to maintain position for underwear and sock placement. Before the interest in getting dressed for school lags, we must hastily enroll all available garments for the day.
That is, if he didn’t already run to the living room for his tablet or back to his bedroom for more cars.
Thank goodness his lunch is in his bookbag. I usually don’t have the strength for more at the moment. If dad runs him down the street to school, it’s all good, too.
I have not yet mentioned the extensive morning preparations of Jai and those for myself. Jrue’s formalities alone are specific, thwarting, and tiring and the first single hour of my day. By the time I get to me, it’s whatever’s clean and work-appropriate from the closet and spraying water and product into my hair. Earrings are optional. Grab my coat. Out the door.
Maybe I’ll get cute someday. Whatever.
This dance of parenthood is a dance of commitment, a dance of unrequited tending. It’s about responsibility and honor. Granted, it’s a penny tossed into the sea.
But there’s love in this dance.
Being a parent often means more than just heralding the basic needs of shelter, clothing, food, water, and love upon a child. It also particularly demands that a child’s underwear is not inside out and backwards under their pants. Ears and noses must be clear of gunk. Fingernails shouldn’t be too long. “Eye boogers” must be properly removed. (They often don’t like that.) Children could feel too warm or too cold when dressed—balance must be sought or the kid will ruin someone’s day.
Offspring are reflections of the efforts of their parents. In addition to the emotional support, listening ear, and unconditional care I show in my son and daughter’s lives, I am in charge of the surveillance of their self-esteems, their intelligences, their socializing, and their overall qualities of life. It’s pressurized and tedious, but it’s major.
It’s the World Ballroom Dancing Championship.
As heartbreaking as it is that, someday, neither Jrue nor Jai will need my help, that, in fact, they will no longer live with the hubs and I or talk to us every day, does not deter my daily efforts. I am steadfast in my “products” and in delegating more compassion and affection and devotion their ways. I am always “Mom,” even when double-checking if bottoms have been wiped.
I’m great at the Cha-Cha.