Wednesday, June 27, 2007

quiet time

It begins with the creaking click of the knob turning, slowly catching the internal mechanism, and then releasing with a soft, metallic echo. The door swings open, and a muffled thump-thump-thump approaches my bedside. A small, impish figure, armed with three stuffed animals and a rather large blanket, hoists itself up beside me and begins to ruin my quiet, restful morning.

“Momma, are you ready to get up now?” the treble voice asks. I look at the clock. 6:30 AM. No. I am not ready to get up yet. Not by a long shot. “Momma…” I roll over toward the voice, which comes out of a deceptively angelic-looking face, framed with soft, sun-kissed curls glowing like a golden halo. In my stupor, I am taken in. The tender moment, however, is fleeting. “Buddy,” I croak in my “it’s dark-thirty AM” voice, “Momma is still sleeping. You need to go back to bed.” “I want to be with you, Momma,” he insists, throwing his legs over mine and grabbing my arm to position around him under his neck.

As I know it is a lose-lose scenario, I choose, this time, to give him a chance. “Buddy, you MUST lay still and you MUST be quiet,” I warn him in the sternest voice I can muster at this hour. It is yet another exercise in futility. Legs on top of mine, legs underneath mine. The arm is in the right spot, the arm is in the wrong spot. “Momma,” he urges, “roll over this way.” Groaning, I roll the opposite direction, to no avail. Tiny legs fling themselves across my torso, shifting roughly every three seconds. Ire is building within my not-a-morning-person spirit. I breathe deeply and hope that ignoring him will deter him.

I hope in vain. “Momma, are you ready to get up now?” he asks again. “I’m ready to eat now. Momma… is sissy up yet? Momma… did Daddy go to work already? Momma… will you play with me? Momma…” In miraculous self-restraint, I calmly roll over and insist that he return to his bedroom. After a moment of protests, he retreats in a fit of whining, slamming both my door and his own along the way, which requires me to get out of bed to address. Finally, I am alone in my bed (oh, sweet mercy) and, smugly congratulating myself for not killing my son, begin to drift back to sleep.

BAM!!! BOOM!!! I awaken and push my door shut, turning the fan up to deal with both the rising heat and the rising noise. CRASH!!! Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump. I roll over, glancing again at the clock. Another hour of “sleep” has passed. SPILLLLLLL!!! Yammeryammeryammer. “Buddy, you’re too loud,” I warn. He quiets momentarily. Then comes the tape player blaring math facts to poorly written imitation-80’s rock music. BEAT-BEAT-BEAT-BEAT. The clock reads 7:50. I groan and finally, wearily, drag myself from bed.

He appears the minute my door opens. “Momma, are you getting up now? I’m ready to eat, Momma. Can we eat now?” I stumble to the bathroom. “Yes, Buddy, we can eat in a minute.” “I want Cheerios, Momma. With honey. Can I have honey?” “We’ll see, Buddy,” I mutter, making my way in to wake up my 8-year-old sleep-loving likeness. “Time to get up now, Sissy!!!!” He diverts his attention to her for a moment, and I begin to dress in my slow, I’m-not-awake-yet pace. BOUNCE!!! “Momma, can we eat NOW?!?!”

Making my way downstairs, he curls around my feet like the cat. “Can I have Cheerios? I want Cheerios. With honey. Can I have honey, Momma?” “Buddy, I got it, okay?” “Okay, Momma,” he chirps, off to clatter with his trains. I enter the kitchen, the cat now curling around my feet, yowling to be paid attention to. My daughter thumps down the stairs and the bickering begins. “That was my train, Sissy! I had it first!” I attempt to ignore it and begin preparing breakfast. Dishes clank against one another, tones harsh and startling to my ears. My irritation grows despite my best efforts.

"Come on guys, it’s ready.” Spoons clinking, Cheerios crunching, children chattering. I place my ingredients in the blender and brace myself. WHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! “Momma, are you making a smoothie?” “What do you think, Buddy?” “Can I have some smoothie? I want some smoothie!” I pour my breakfast—MY breakfast—and come to the table.

I pull my devotional reading out, shuffling through the pages to today’s date. I begin to read, hungry for a nourishing moment. “What are we going to do today, Momma? Are we going to aerobics today? What are we doing after aerobics? Are we going to a friend’s house today? I want to play with a friend today, Momma. Can I have my gummy vitamins, Momma? I haven’t had my vitamins yet…” It takes me ten minutes to read the three short paragraphs. The moment I shut the book and lay it down, it has already left me. “Momma, I want some more…”

Some more. Yes. I want some more, too. More sleep. More peace. More “Mommy-Time.” More quiet. I know it is a season, one like many others I will encounter. But it is a particularly noisy, relentless season, and I am one who is sensitive to the noise and the pressure. “They tell me there will come a time when it seems too quiet,” I say to my husband one night, as they are bickering in the stroller. “I can’t imagine...” “Don’t say that,” he gently admonishes me. “You know it will be here all too soon.”

Yes, I know this. I remind myself of it daily, trying to be comfortable with the tension between cherishing the now and anticipating the not-yet. There will come a day I will long for that little voice to wake me up and fill my day, but, at the moment, the day is filled to overflowing. I pray for moments of quiet, moments of inner peace, moments of grace. One comes, as the children exit the kitchen and flow out into the backyard. Moving into the living room, I pick my devotional up again, and soak up as much as those three minutes will allow. “Momma,” I hear all too soon. “Momma, I need you..."

This time, I am ready to rise. I close my eyes for a moment, lifting up a prayer for our day, for my children, for my heart. Then I get up, placing the book back on the kitchen table, and I follow the noise to its source. With a newfound calmness, I respond.

“Whatcha need, Buddy? I’m ready now…”


Cindy said...

This made my heart stop to pause. I feel overwhelmed now too, and this really hit the nail on the head. This morning I'm grieving AGAIN the loss of solitude and my own way, while giving and giving and giving despite the migraine headache that torments me. "..cherishing the now and anticipating the not-yet."

God help us mothers.

Great post Lorie.

Julie Morrison said...

I read your post and my breath caught in my throat and tears sprang to my eyes as I watch with sadness, the days of belligerent entries, music played too loud and pink flip flops will soon disappear in a wake of all grown up independence.
Her 17th birthday is only four months off and already I dread the abscence of her untimely remarks and drama queen tales.
She was just a little kid tugging on every nerve just yesterday...
can we have a cat mommy can I can I can I?

Carol said...

I have recently been going through 28 years of my children's photographs reliving memories having great old laughs and some cries too. So when I read your post it brought tears to my eyes,thinking about all the fond memories I have of them.. and one day it will be quiet, unbelievably quiet..and you will most certainly wish for the days when little bodies snuggle in for cuddles, and you will miss their nagging, their bickering..
however, my time with my children is still precious to me I don't wish for them to be babies anymore I just love the way they have grown into beautiful adults.. And I wait in anticipation for grandchildren which seems to be a long time coming, but I will wait patiently and enjoy my adult children..listen to their thoughts and their problems lend them my shoulder to cry upon and all the things mums just never forget how to do..

lorie said...

Thank you, all of you, for reminding me again of what my heart knows to be true. It is so hard in the moment to keep a hold of this...

Carol, thank you, especially, for the reminder that there is so much to yet look forward to. I tend to think sometimes (because my mom taught preschool and I've spent a LOT of time with preschoolers) that the best years are over. I know they are not--I'm just not used to what comes next.

I'm going to go take a deep breath and get ready for our morning walk--my Buddy let me sleep until 9:30 today!!!