The Message of a Simple Morning
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
It was a Monday during the pandemic and all the house was asleep.
There was not a sound but the chirping of the birds in the early morning sunrise
"Wake UUUU-uuuup, beautiful Ima!" (mom in Hebrew)
There was my spritely squirrel all ready to go, completely awake. Note that she did not, however, try to wake up her equally tired and sleeping Aba (dad in Hebrew).
Now, I am NOT an early riser. For 14 years I had to wake up at 5:15am every morning to get to my classrooms on time and as a mother who has worked to build a more forgiving schedule, I do not enjoy being woken up. Even when so sweetly.
But then something magical happened. And I am pretty sure it was because of all of the foundational work that had come before.
Here's the sequence of events:
She noticed that her beautiful Ima was indeed NOT ready to wake up. So she plopped her huge pile of friends and blanket on our bed and kissed me on the cheek saying, "it's ok, baby...yes, it's ok sweet one..."
I began to grumble something to the ring of "Lula, Ima and Aba are very tired and still want to sleep a little bit. Do you want to cuddle?" and prepare for the inevitable "nooooo!!!!" when she added, "well, I understand. So you can keep sleeping because I have an apple that was already washed in my snack box!" Jump, knee on stomach, sweet kiss, cuddle, "oh! And I can read in that little chair too!"
CHEERS for the snack box and children who can open the fridge by themselves! (the latter being something I had sometimes cursed in the past.) And oh GLORY for the little reading and meditation nook in our bedroom.
So I got to actually turn over and refocus on the birds. I got to sleep MORE after my child had already woken!!! All while listening to the sweetest of little feet that ran to the kitchen and back, and then proceeded to set up her very own pile of books next to her morning snack. After that, she ran to her toy rotation and built a barn and yard with magnatiles.
And then for the following blissful hour, my husband and I got to slowly wake up, cuddle, and even read our own books in bed!
It was quite a triumph, and turned into a really loving morning filled with pancakes and fun.
But what this magical little moment made me realize even more so was the amazing gift of providing our children with examples of stillness:
If she had only watched us ask for what we need and explain exactly why before rolling over in bed, that would have been enough.
If she had only watched us cuddle, learning by example how to share simple moments of love, that would have been enough.
If she had only experienced the freedom of safety and responsibility that comes when we trust our toddlers to sometimes fend for themselves, that would have been enough.
If she had only experienced the stillness of a mindful morning and learned how to cherish each moment, that would have been enough.
If she had only witnessed each of her parents diving hungrily into their books, learning by example how nourishing the written word is, that would have been enough.
If she had only learned play independence and the joy of imaginative play with loose parts, that would have been enough.
And in that moment, we were also given a precious gift: the knowledge that sometimes doing nothing as parents is enough. Even more than enough.
In the scarcity culture we build around ourselves that is always, mercilessly telling us that we are not enough, that what we are doing and what we are thinking is not enough, that we will never be enough, the power of a simple morning where, in my experience, I stated my needs and had my needs met. My child was able to empathize and meet my needs. She was able to be self supportive and shame resilient. That is because in our house, at least, I am done with parenting from a place of guilt or fear or worry. I am done with hiding what I really need. I am way into showing my hurt, revealing my pain, stating when I need a break or when I feel weak or tired. I try to bear my soul and show up as I am every day. So because of that, she is learning the same.
And THAT is what's up.
So I wanted to share some of the hard-earned lessons in my own parenting that I have thought a lot about, especially recently:
LESSON ONE: Make fewer goals, try to accomplish less, and celebrate more.
Ahh, the superhero complex, boy do I know it well. What I have discovered is that the age old adage of less is more is absolutely true and oh so hard. But what was real in the classroom and is still true in my motherhood as well as quarantine life is that I have a tendency to try to tweeze out every precious minute of time alone to get things done and then instead of doing just that...I fall apart.
So now every time I feel the tendency creeping up to overload my workday or my special work time, I remind myself to be kind to myself.
Some ways I do this:
every time I know I will have an opportunity to work I write for myself only 1-3 manageable, bite-size goals that I KNOW I will accomplish
sometimes those goals are so small, like respond to one e-mail
sometimes those goals have nothing to do with my work and are about self care, like taking a 30 minute break
I don't have mandates or a schedule, instead go with the flow
And then I celebrate! I celebrate what was. I tap into gratitude. Sometimes I jump around the room and repeat an empowering incantation like
EVERY DAY IN EVERY WAY I ACCEPT AND SHARE THE WEALTH, MONEY IS ABUNDANT, LOVE AND PEACE WITHIN AND I AM IN PERFECT HEALTH!
Yes, I look hokey. Yes, it's sometimes even silly. But it feels oh. so. good.
And I also purposefully slow myself down. These days I am working in timed increments - 25min get things done followed by 5min of self love. Sometimes the self love is a cuddle. Other times it's that dance above. And sometimes it is a meditation or even a longer nap.
But the idea is to break up the frenzy with the light. Move our bodies. Go outside. Play with our kids.
And know that the work will get done even BETTER and more productively if we sandwich it with love.
LESSON TWO: Fight without blame, hear without shame, and take more pauses
I am in the process of noticing my triggers. Just in noticing we have won half the battle. Once we have done this, we are then able to hear and fight without the blame and shame. We are able to give space for the things others need. We are able to hear these needs without hearing the guilt or shame tape. Or at least without letting it run us.
It's all about observing ourselves from our higher selves.
Here is how I've been doing this lately:
In neutral times, I think of a trigger. Sometimes it is something that's just occurred and other times it is from long ago.
I write it down. I draw it out. I tell the story.
I notice how the tell