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Just be

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Morning always comes too soon. Without fail. The alarm clock's rude blare interrupts dreaming for harsh reality far before it could be considered a civilized hour. Right now, in mid-winter (but, thankfully, after the solstice), it's as dark when we have to rouse as it was when we turned out the lights mere hours before.

Alfs' bus stops at the end of our road before 7am. And that was after some contortions with the bus company so he could be on the later of the two buses that zigzag our area of town. There are some kids on the bus at 6:40am. That's not a typo; it's freakin' early. This early bus schedule started just this school year. Last year Alfs boarded the bus just after 8am, and that was kind of manageable. But with starting at the middle school this year, he's now on the earliest schedule. School schedules have no respect for natural sleep cycles.Perhaps if either I or my husband were morning people, it wouldn't be so bad. We're not, however. We are so, so not. We're night people. Our brains really get in gear in the evening hours. A couple or three hours after dinner, when the kids are in bed, I can start thinking creatively again. I make connections and jumps and new things start to take form. I often have to force myself to close the book, put down the knitting, stop the writing, and turn out the light. Yes, I should go to bed earlier. I know I should.It takes a fair bit of time to get Alfs moving in the morning. Getting dressed, getting breakfast, asthma meds, taking the dog out, feeding the dog. We move slowly. I get up with him mostly to keep him company. He doesn't really need me to do anything for him aside from actually walking into his room and jostling him awake. He likes to make his own breakfast. It's not fair to insist, even by default (by just staying in bed), that he be alone in those groggy first minutes of the day. Just to have someone be with him is what he needs, so he feels less alone. We don't try to talk about anything. I ask if he has everything for the day, offer a reminder about something after school if necessary, but that's it. I sip my coffee. Sometimes I make a list for the day. If he has a little extra time, he reads.By the time Alfs walks out the door at 6:55am, he's perking up a bit. I am well into my second cup of coffee. I move to the dining room window and watch him walk down the road. Then the flashing lights of the school bus, he steps up and in. I go up the steps, too, and crawl back under the covers. Shortly the younger ones are awake. They crawl into our bed for a snuggle for fifteen minutes or so. Like Alfs, like me, they are not morning people, and they need to just be for a bit before the day really begins.

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