School-day mornings are crazy around here. Shoes mysteriously disappear along with backpacks, homework and lunch boxes. I am always rushed because I continue to underestimate the time it takes a 3-year-old to pick the perfect outfit for the day. A skirt, today? No, perhaps something with a little more pizzazz. We are going to the park, after all.
Then there’s the lengthy and tearful hair brushing that elicits that I am clearly only doing because I love to torture my children. And when we are just about out the door with a banana in one hand and unfinished homework in the other, someone inevitably decides they have to go potty “right now!”
I have tried repeatedly to make my mornings go more smoothly. Then, I read a recent blog post by Alissa Parker, mother of Emilie Parker, one of the first-grade students killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School classroom last year. Alissa writes how she, too, would often get frustrated by the inattention and slow speed of her 6-year-old daughter in the morning. But she writes, “Looking back, I am so thankful that the last morning I had with Emilie ended up not being a morning filled with frustration and anger, but of love and kindness. What a blessing.”
My quest to make mornings better in my home suddenly had more urgency after reading her words. Now I think every morning, “If my daughter doesn’t ever come home today, what will our last moment be together?” Perhaps it’s morbid, but I treat every morning as if it might be our last.
Instead of hurriedly brushing hair and snapping, “Well, if you would just hold still, it wouldn’t hurt so much,” I am trying to spend those hair-do morments looking at my daughter’s reflection with her and telling her what I love about her.
Rather than hurrying my children to “Eat. Quickly!” while I pack lunches, I try to sit down with them and talking about the challenges and adventures they will have that day. I try to talk sweeter and touch softer rather than pushing and nudging slow little bodies out the door.
My mornings still have more rush to them than I would like. I still say, “Hurry up,” more than I should, but I am trying. And no matter how crazy my morning is, I always slow down and take a few moments at the end to connect with my daughter. Even if it means she is going to be late, I take a minute to look in her eyes, give her a hug and tell her I love her. I make sure that last moment before she walks away is one that I would want to hold onto forever.
The truth is, not may people will have to live out the horror of the Sandy Hook shootings. Morning memories will not end that abruptly or tragically for most people. But these school-day mornings will end for all parents at some point. No one knows when it will be the last kiss, the last bus-stop goodbye or the last hurried morning together.
I want my daughter to look back with love and warmth on our mornings together. I hope I can do a better job of treating every day like it is my last. And when it’s not and she runs back into my arms at the end of the day, I can rejoice that I get one more morning to do even better.
How do you slow down school-day mornings to start the day off right?