This is how I wake up every morning:
A little body in snug pajamas is wedged between my husband and me; an even smaller body is tucked under my arm. Soon the bigger of the small bodies starts wiggling and squirming and making the smaller one laugh. Then my husband is up and off to work, and the demands begin. Both little bodies desperately need the first diaper change of the day. The smaller is crying loudly but without words for a bottle, the bigger is begging with words for a “snacky bar” (granola) and “kid’s coffee” (warm milk with vanilla and sugar) over and over until I finally – and literally – drag my own adult body out of bed to attend to the little ones’ needs. With the baby on my hip I ready a bottle, make my son’s breakfast one-handed, and settle the two of them in to eat in front of PBS.
Then I have my coffee.
I need my coffee. It’s not the caffeine. Well, I’m sure it’s partly the caffeine. But more importantly, it’s a moment to retreat inside myself, find a tiny pocket of silence in which to rest fleetingly, and then emerge to take on the day. That quiet cup symbolizes the dark and fertile place where love grows. If I am to properly love my little seedlings, I must tend to my own garden first. For the rest of the day I will come second. I play, clothe, change, and bathe, tending to their needs. I even eat after them. And that’s as it should be.
I can’t fully explain how that place of silence affords such grace. I only know that if I fail to grasp it, we are all the worse for it. And if I let myself rest momentarily in that quiet place, I am somehow able to get through the day, however imperfectly.