Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Morning Routine

An alarm goes off. It's not right by my head; that one is set to go off in five minutes, but so far this fall I've never heard it. I hear the one buzzing insistently in Mariah's room, and almost before I'm aware I'm out of bed, padding down the hall to peer into the darkness. "Wake up, honey!"

"I'll be up in--" she fumbles with the clock and her glasses-- "six minutes."

It's six o'clock.

I leave, go into the bathroom, turn on the water for the shower. Sometimes while I'm under water I hear the buzzing again, and eventually Mariah appears.

I turn on the hall light so I can get a little visibility in the bedroom. I don't want to wake Mark. Nick will sleep through everything, including his own alarm an hour (two?) later. I paw through clothes, hoping that what I find is clean, and fits, and matches. Sometimes it works. I keep thinking I should plan outfits the night before, but so far I haven't managed. Only once did I have to stop at Target after dropping Mariah and rework things, though.

Coffee, breakfast, prepare a lunch. It's usually 6:40 before I see Mariah; I'm already starting to worry about getting out the door by 7. She forces down some food, some vitamins I've gotten out for her. More coffee goes into the travel cup. Teeth brushed, hair, makeup, and we're out the door by 7, just as the sun is starting to rise. It's quiet out, not much traffic.

We get to the bus stop and sit for a minute or two waiting for the bus. She tells me stories about the kids she sees waiting: "It makes me sad, Mom, those freshman girls and those guys hang out with them because only the new girls will look up to them. They're such losers." Or, "those kids are fine on their own, but get them in a group…" She notices that the kids walking into the public high school where her bus stops are all black; the kids waiting for her bus, to a selective public arts school, are mixed. Integration hasn't made it very far here.

Some mornings it's NPR but usually I let her choose the music for the few minutes while we wait. Then the bus arrives and she's out the door, shouldering her bag and joining her people. And I drive off to work where I am the first one in the office, working in the quiet of the early morning. At home, Nick isn't even awake yet; Mark will do what I did last year,: cajole him out of bed, put together a quick breakfast and an even quicker lunch, and hustle out the door hoping to make it to school, only a mile away, before the tardy bell at 9:05. By then I'll have had a walk around the lake and be settled into the day.

I always thought I hated mornings, really. But there are some advantages to the new routine.

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