Thursday Morning Wood

Posted by Wood | Thursday, February 08, 2007 |

We threw our alarm clock away when we left San Francisco. I hadn't used it since Juniper was born. It was old and ugly: I bought it for $10 at Target before my freshman year of college, and when we got rid of it, it still had a shamrock sticker from St. Patrick's Day '96 next to the snooze button.

We don't have an alarm clock now. Like our grandparents who could never recover from the depression, I've not recovered from the first 20 months of Juniper's life. During those months, getting her to sleep involved an elaborate combination of nursing, singing, dancing, rocking and patting. Most nights she woke up every two hours, and she was awake for the day by 5:30 a.m. These days, it only takes reading her three books and telling her one story before she willingly, and quietly, goes to sleep for an uninterrupted 12 hour stretch. Still, the idea of rising before she does seems unforgivably wasteful. Even if I've slept for 10 hours myself, I just can't bear to do it.

Juniper gets up somewhere between 7:00 and 8:00 every morning. When I hear her calling for me, usually by demanding: "Mama! Mama, say good morning!", I stumble into her room and listen to her chatter for a few minutes before we go downstairs for breakfast. She sits on the counter narrating everything I do while I make her oatmeal with frozen blueberries. Then she eats her breakfast while I read the paper and drink coffee. Sometimes she talks to the blueberries, telling the baby blueberry to listen to the dada blueberry and take a bath and go to sleep. After a half an hour or so, we head back upstairs so I can get ready for work while she plays with her toys in the bathroom sink. This whole routine means that I'm usually a few minutes late for work, but I don't care. It's my favorite part of the day.

For the last week and a half, for the first time in over two years, I've had to be somewhere before 8:00 a.m. In order to get to work on time, I set my cell phone to wake me up at 6:40 each morning. Most days this week, by the time Juniper woke up, I was already fully dressed and ready to head out the door. I greeted her for the first time in the morning wearing my hat, scarf, gloves and boots. After holding her against the stiff collar of my winter coat for a few minutes, I had to leave her with her barely-awake dad. I left each morning to the sound of her wails.

They say you have to give a new job six months before you fully adjust, before you know if it suits you. I'm nearly six months in on this job, and I like it most of the time. I'm getting used to it. I don't think I'll ever get used to leaving Juniper in the morning, though, even long after she learns to stop crying each time I reach for my keys. It hurts just as much every day as it did the day before.