“An hour, an hour, my kingdom for an hour!”

Please just leave me alone! (photo: guardian.co.uk)
Please just leave me alone. (photo: guardian.co.uk)

I hear the dreaded thump overhead, which means that my three-year-old is out of bed. “No, please, no!” I think to myself. It’s 5:50 a.m. and I’ve only just gotten up, tiptoeing past the boys’ bedroom door and down the creaky stairs. I’ve made myself a cup of tea and have settled in to do some reading when I hear that most frustrating of sounds. Little footsteps patter into my bedroom. He’s whining softly, crying a bit. I drop my book and rush upstairs before he wakes up his baby brother.

“I’m right here,” I whisper. “What is it?”

“I’m wet,” he wails. At least he’s keeping his voice down.

“Okay, stay here. I’ll go get you a change of clothes.”

The bathroom door is right next to the sleeping baby’s crib. I open it a crack to let out some light, but as soon as the baby starts to stir, I quickly close it. The last thing I want is two kids awake at 5:50 a.m. So I kneel in front of the dresser and feel my way around the drawers. The pajama drawer is second from the bottom. I know most of his clothes by touch, but it still takes forever to locate a clean pajama bottom.

By this time, he has followed me into the dark room and continues to whine. I swap out the bottoms and tell him to get back in bed.

“My pajama top is wet, too.” I feel it. There’s only a small damp spot.

“It’s fine. Just go back to bed.”

“Nooo,” he wails. Baby stirs.

“Fine, I’ll get you a dry one,” I hiss, “but please be quiet.”

Back to the drawer for more rummaging in the darkness. I find a pajama top. As soon as I put it on him, he announces that his undershirt is soaked. Sure enough, it is. Off comes the new pajama top, and the wet undershirt, and back on goes the new top.

“Where’s Dash?” he asks. Dash is his giraffe. My heart sinks. I drop to my hands and knees and start searching madly in the vicinity of the bed, but thankfully he quickly announces he’s found Dash already. Crisis averted.

“Get back in bed,” I order.

“But my bed is wet!” he whines. I check. Yep, it’s soaked. I spread a towel over the wet spot and he climbs in.

I tuck him in, tiptoe out of the room, and collapse on the sofa. I’ve narrowly averted a crisis. Back to my tea, back to the warm blanket I like to wrap myself in, back to the fabulous article on feminist theory I’ve been reading, back to the only nugget of true peace I’ll have all day. I push away the nagging thought: for how long?

Apparently, not long at all. There’s another thump upstairs. A moment later, a beaming face appears at the bottom of the stairs. “Hi!” he whispers excitedly.

“Hi, sweetheart. I have to do some work. You can play quietly.”

His smile disappears and the awful whine returns. “But I want breeeaaakfaaast.”

I sigh, and quickly weight the pros and cons of arguing with him. Breakfast wins, so I rush to the kitchen, throw a few plops of yogurt in a bowl, pour some granola on top, and shove it at him rather unceremoniously.

“Can I please have some banana on top?” There are no more bananas.

“I want an apple instead.”

“You can have a whole apple after your finish your yogurt and granola.”

“But I want it cut up!”

I resist screaming. “No!” I say. “Please just eat your yogurt. I’m going to do my work.”

A wailing three-year-old follows me into the living room. “Mama, I want an apple.”

“Then get one and wash it and eat it,” I snap.

“I want it in my bowl.”

“Then put it in your bowl.”

“I can’t cut it up. I can’t reach the knife and I don’t want another boo-boo.” Good point. I take pity on him and cut up part of an apple faster than I ever have before. I toss it in the bowl and beeline back to my reading.

Silence reigns in the dining room for a few minutes. I know he’s eating. Then, “Mama, I need a blanket.” I’m so frustrated that I ignore him.

He comes into the living room, yogurt smeared on his face. “I need a blanket. My feet are cold.” When he elicits no reaction from me, he pulls a fleece blanket out of a basket and drags it in the kitchen.

Then, “Mama! Please push me in.” I drag myself up once again to push in his chair. He’s managed to wrap himself snugly in the blanket. He finishes his breakfast without further complaint.

Some mornings are endlessly frustrating, full of incessant demands and frustrating disruptions. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t have anything else on the go, but I wouldn’t be a happy woman if I dedicated every ounce of my attention to my children. And so, I find myself divided, struggling to carve out precious time to fuel my personal interests that have nothing to do with my kids, while still trying to be a good mom.

I honestly can’t wait for those mornings when they’ll be old enough to get up, feed themselves, and play independently; when I won’t have to creep around for fear of waking them; when I can count on having a large chunk of time to do my own thing in peace. I have to believe that day will come, and when it does, I’ll treasure it.

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2 thoughts on ““An hour, an hour, my kingdom for an hour!”

  1. “A chunk of time for yourself” Dream on Katherine, it will be a long time before that happens. Not to burst your bubble or anything.

    1. Haha, oh, I know… I’m just dreaming aloud! Eventually that day will come and then I’ll probably miss the crazy chaos of this chapter of my life. As my grandma told me this week, she has too much quiet free time now.

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