Kevin is always gone by 6:30 am, so I’m “the morning person” as the kids say.
It’s been this way since the day Jack was born nearly nine years ago. I do the wake up calls, get the four kids up, dressed, brushed, packed, ready for the day and driven to school. It’s a daily routine that lasts roughly one and a half hours from start to finish. Just 1.5 hours.
5 times per week.
A very short time, really.
We all pass through a full 1,440 minutes every day of our life. 86,400 seconds in every 24 hours, the clock forever eating away at our human experience.
Sure, there’s a photo-snap here.
A quick status there.
A vivid experience jotted down in a small journal from time to time.
Yet most of those tick marks of life go unrecorded.
Most movements, words relayed, and interactions with others are auto-categorized as trivial. Unimportant.
And they’re quickly forgotten.
The brain makes fools of us all, constantly eroding older memories to make room for new thoughts, new experiences, new connections.
Yet our lifelong individual identity is forged from those millions of forgotten steel iron moments.
For small children, these millions of forgotten moments are even more potent in developing identity because their interactions are guided by the adults they are dependent on.
One such moment in twenty eight month old Juli-Anna’s life occurs around 6:45 am every weekday.
It’s February now.
The year, 2017.
Her crib is still in our room.
She just fully weaned from nursing three months ago.
She no longer co-sleeps with us.
She’s transitioning from baby habits into small child habits.
Her life is progressing.
And every morning now, she wakes up smiling as soon as she hears me stir.
Standing at the end of her crib, peeping over the rails, hair tasseled, she giggles and calls out:
“Hi, my sweet darling! Good morning!” I always say back to her. The room is dim and colorless, morning sun fighting to break through from behind the curtains.
“Hi!” she says again. It’s all she can say right now. She doesn’t talk other than a handful of favorite names and a few foods.
Then she reaches her arms out to me, not realizing I have the option to refuse her request to be held. She trusts me.
“Hi!” I reply once more, scooting off the bed and walking to her crib.
She starts jumping as I approach, arms still held high.
And then I pick her up.
In the still, quiet of the morning, before the other three children awaken, she wraps herself around me and clings tightly, burrowing her face into my neck.
And I twirl her around.
And sit down on our bed.
And cling back.
And I sing her song to her…the silly, sweet family song I made up for her the first time I held her in my arms seconds after birth.
“Juli-Anna, fresh as a daisy
Everybody’s crazy ’bout you you you!
Juli-Anna, we don’t mean maybe,
Everybody’s crazy ’bout tiny little you!”
And it all takes place within a few eternal soon-to-be-forgotten minutes.