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The Dawn Chorus

“Mummy! Where are my toes? Where’s Garden Bunny? Where’s my orange blanket? Where are Mummy’s toes?”

We are going through a phase of 4:00 am existentialism.

It’s ok. I quite enjoy the window it gives me into the workings of Little One’s blossoming mind… although, I am glad that my strategy of hugging her quietly through her musings seems to shorten her wakefulness, rather than turning it into a full blown discussion by responding to her queries.

Such a relief really, when she drifts back off to a peaceful sleep and I kiss her soft curls and listen in wonder to her easy breath…

And then: here come the thoughts.

And then: here come some more.

And now: here come the thoughts about how I’m having thoughts and therefore must be awake… and could be asleep… and would be better off asleep…

And there ends any chance of me getting back to sleep.

I have a bag of tricks to dip into at such times – yogic breathing, body scan, counting backwards, ‘lying down meditation’ (you know how when you’re in sitting meditation you sometimes drift towards zzz – trying here to transfer this phenomenon to horizontal plane)… anyway, there’s something about that time of day, when the trees are still still, and you know that even at the coast the first glimmer of light hasn’t yet hit; but if the brain is awake, it goes into alert. None of the tricks seem to work.

I can still relax and allow my body to rest; but am I really getting the true level of replenishment I need to keep up with my daytime self?

Today, I’d wondered this for long enough that I had begun to tune in to the very beautiful sounds of the day awakening.

I could hear the trees starting to breathe more deeply as the birds began to rustle themselves awake and whisper to each other that the light was changing.

I could hear morning dew twinkling.

I could hear the low clouds that had blanketed the night thin themselves out and release a gentle morning rinse upon the earth (and my clothesline of nappies).

I could hear twigs and leaves drop to the ground as the birds got more active.

And then the singing.

So much singing. With such jubilance and clarity. I was inspired to get up and see if I could magic up a cup of tea to enjoy while it was still hot.

Oh the light!

I’ve long considered my sixty year old Rose bush at dusk to be my absolute favourite play of light. But today was pretty freakin special.

All my lying down meditation had me well primed to really soak in the wonder of how every single day the sun comes up.

I watched, from my corner lounge in the corner windows as the golden glow rose up from the east, easily visualising the glimmer it would now be casting over the ocean.

I breathed deeply, integrating into all my cells the gratitude at having this delicious solitude; just me and the dawning day.

What a sublime treat.

Inside the house, my old hound snores, all is quiet from the children’s bedrooms. Incense smoke unfurls, and my tea cup is warm in my hands. This is it.

The very here and now.

“Mummy where’s Garden Bunny?”

Little footsteps carry a little voice down the hall towards me, and the moment I am in is richer even than the one before, as I scoop up a bundle of pyjamas and golden curls and we snuggle into the bliss together.

Lucky lucky me!

(Written in thirty second spurts throughout the morning, long after the sun and Little One had risen).

More Toast?

“More toast please Mum”, I reply.

Aah. Breakfast in bed. My once a week special treat. Babydaddy does a sleepover and I get to have a leisurely morning while he gets to see what it is that I do on all the other days. In theory. But if that’s how it’s gonna fly, there’s a whole lot of ground work to lay. And who’s gotta lay it? Mother hen, that’s who.

Congratulations and hooray for all the women out there who have intuitive partners who really truly share the load. I understand that there’s a possibility of not being the only one to carry the responsibility of doing all the thinking, and I promise that there are times when I really truly have a go at letting go of the reigns; but the reality is, that when I make myself a tray of tea and toast and quietly bring it back to bed, I am still the mum.

And if I want to enjoy peaceful, quiet time, I have to earn it.

I have to explain to the other adult that on all the other mornings I am up with the toddler and on the go, responding to her needs, keeping us on track, and getting us out the door on time.

This includes, and is rarely limited to – having the kitchen cleaned before bedtime just in case I fall asleep with Baby (best case scenario for my ongoing mental health, given the early starts and broken sleep, not to mention mega sleep debt), making sure I’m showered, have taken my magnesium & brushed my teeth, have tidied the living area ready for a fresh day, have set up an ‘invitation to play’ for the next morning, have prepared her lunchbox if it’s a daycare day, and have applied my moisturiser whilst saying to the mirror “I love you, I see you, you are great”. So that’s the night before.

In the mornings, I have to be organised with keeping Baby happily busy if I don’t want to be followed to the toilet, or I just have to accept that having things brought to me in that tiny room is a part of this stage of parenting. The luxury of closed door toileting, long showers, a leisurely coffee… these are things I have forfeited for a child who feels connected and secure. For now, because she is still very small.

So, on my ‘morning off’, my idea is that I get a chance to replenish so that I can keep going on all the other days. I’m lucky as a single mum to have this weekly chance.

But if Babydaddy wants to go to the toilet and shut the door, Baby knows where to find Mum. If Babydaddy wants to have a shower, same. If Babydaddy didn’t get organised with lunchbox the night before, Baby needs to be entertained while he does this at his once a week leisurely pace. And if there was no ‘invitation to play’ set up the night before, then keeping Baby entertained takes more.

As Mother Hen, is all of this intrinsic? Hell no. How I manage sustainably comes down to acquired skills, thought out systems, and practised rhythms. Yes, there is an organic natural flow, yes, there is a lot of intuitive loving awareness, yes, I’m a bloody great improviser and a fast thinker and can operate in the kitchen like one with many more arms than I have.

But at the end of the day, and at the start of the next day, and in the seemingly endless, relentless cycle of keeping on going in a home that is ordered enough to support a developing sense of security, it is my presence and preparedness that keeps me going.

Because this job needs me to keep going.

And that’s why, when, on my ‘morning off’, Baby has come wandering and found me, and nobody is protecting my solitude from outside my bedroom, and she sees me with my tray of tea and toast, and asks for a bit, and then a bit more, I respond with loving gentle parenting. Because that’s easier than getting up to knock on the toilet door to explain all of the above.