The morning meltdown:
6:30 am: one-year-old is wide awake. Happy. Calling to the dog in the dark, “Ba, BAA.”
7:00 am: Bottle of milk. Tiny fingers reaching carefully for Cheerios and toast. It’s going to be a splendid day!
7:30 am: She hurls 21 lbs of herself into golden retriever who is trying to sleep. He is a jungle gym. She hugs and pats and grasps wads of fur and skin. Fur in her mouth. He groans and cleans oatmeal off her face. I snuggle with them and we are all so happy!
7:40 am: Wild, hyper crawling. Let’s climb the stairs. I am well aware of what is coming. So is the dog. Over the past 6 months, we have adopted a very routine morning walk where we march down the street in quest of a morning nap! She sleeps well in motion and this is something we count on. Just need to time it to beat the meltdown.
7:50 am: I’m trying to answer work related emails on my iPhone, as many of my accounts and business contacts are on EST and they are well into their morning. I am aware that this is setting us back on our schedule, so I stop and delay the rest until we are on the walk. Then I get down on myself about it, as well as for staring at iPhone instead of child.
8:00 am: The diaper Olympics. Changing this kid’s diaper is like wrestling a small, very strong, crocodile. No toy, no book, nothing works to keep her still for the precarious moments when you do NOT want anything flying through the air at your face. Cry, cry, scream.
8:10 am: Dog comes looking for us. He senses a transition. He is panting, and anxiety fills his eyes. Even though it is a given he will get a walk, that no matter what in his entire almost 9 years of life, I have done anything and everything to ensure that he gets exercised daily, he still looks panic-stricken. Perhaps this is similar to my own anxiety– will I get to run alone today? What if I can’t? Unfortunately this is not a light tug in my mind. He is staring at us from her bedroom door, and he is making me feel anxious.
8:20 am: Child is dressed in her capilene long underwear. It is probably about 20 degrees outside. I decide that there is no reason for me not to brush my teeth. Child is starting to bleat like a machine gun. She rubs her eyes. Sleep book 101– give me my nap now…or else… Dog pants and licks her face. He hovers near as if we might vaporize any second. We are all crowded into the bathroom and I take out the bath toys to distract her. She doesn’t want them: she wants the trashcan. Electric toothbrush falls on floor out of my mouth, whirring, sputtering toothpaste. Dog jumps. Child cries.
8:30 am: This is it. We should have been starting the walk NOW but we are not even close. I smell something and we need to change another diaper. Wrestling match part II; dog looks indignant at this time wasted, and is now barking and barking and barking.
“No! No bark! No!” I am firm.
I’m holding her leg while she’s trying to flip over. Little girl smiles suddenly and says “Nah Nah Nah,” and for the remainder of the day I am reminded of my witchiness. She repeats “Nah, Nah, Nah.” This crushes me a bit.
8:40: We put on the down snowsuit. Hat. Dog leash. There is a lot of crying. I can’t find the keys. I turn and she is crawling up the stairs in slippery snowsuit. Dash and pickup. Back Arch. Dog has given up– lies down with a very disappointed disgruntled groan. He hates me. Maybe us. I don’t like to think he could hate her, but he definitely hates me now. He was once my baby.
8:59: I strap her in the stroller and we begin the march down the sidewalk, the dreaded snowbanks and ice that make it hard to maneuver my large jogging stroller through. Dog pulls and darts in front, his red embroidered leash getting caught in the wheels. We stop, and I patiently untangle. He’d rather be off leash, hiking somewhere cool like we used to do, but the timing of it doesn’t jive with morning nap walk. Sorry bud. (Lucky boy gets to hike in the afternoons many days of the week as well.)For the next hour, I focus on getting that nap. Get me that nap! Some time today, I will run. For now…. it is bliss… the sweet moment when you know her eyes have closed.
10:30 am: Arrive across town at gym. Realize I have not had any water yet today. I eat some Cheerios from little girl’s snack disc. I leave her with the lovely woman and her children who run the babysitting room, and walk outside realizing I have forgotten gloves. My mind has been so set on getting to this point that I don’t feel mentally prepared to actually perform the task of running 6 miles. I feel weak and hungry. My Garmin which used to be impeccably charged and updated says “low battery” and my iPod is dead. I don’t even care. I just go– this is my only shot to be alone. Garmin dies within a minute. I trace a loved route, throw away pace, time, miles. I just go for me, for her, for my fur boy at home. Tomorrow we will repeat and earnestly try, try, try to make each morning better, to beat the time, to beat the meltdown, to be more prepared, more patient, more calm. We will get that walk, that nap, that run, and if we don’t- well the worst will be that we will cry and bark and maybe cry a little more, but it will all be okay. And… we are happy (and tired, and messy.)