I had trouble sleeping on Friday night, and when I woke up on Saturday I was still tired. All I really wanted was for the kids to sleep in and for me not to be the one to deal with the morning routine.
But my kids don't sleep in. They arise at the same time and expect the same schedule. Schedules are good, but so is occasional spontaneity. My kids haven't gotten that memo.
I was drifting in and out of shallow sleep, and I could hear Fiver and Sally roaming the kitchen unsupervised. I selfishly hoped that Rob would read my mind and get out of bed to deal with breakfast.
But strangely enough, Rob still hasn't become clairvoyant after all these years that I've been with him. He was sleepy too, so when Thing 2 and Thing 3 started arguing over food, and Thing 4 started screaming from his crib, I huffed my way out of bed and started slamming doors and barking orders.
Nothing says Good Morning, Beloved Family like a hefty dose of maturity in the early sunshine.
I whisked the baby out of his crib without so much as a kiss or hug, and I changed his diaper with nothing more than brisk efficiency. I can only imagine what I looked like to him; I must have been a real vision.
And because bad moods, when indulged, only become more grasping and tenacious, I stalked down the hall to the Francie's room to get some clothes for Sally. I had been awake for approximately eleven minutes and already my selfish bad mood was like a gaping maw that was threatening to swallow me whole.
Francie, who still rises early but likes lie in and read on the weekends, looked up from her book with a smile when I barged into the room.
You are cleaning this filthy room today, I said. No more, no less.
Downstairs, the scene was no better. It would be kind to say that I was terse, telling the kids to keep out from under my feet and for heaven's sake will everyone just stay out of the kitchen!
What I didn't see was my bad mood, jumping like a contagion from me to my husband to my children. I was infecting them, bringing them down with me.
I heard Francie nastily chastising Fiver, and I turned to scold her for it. The harsh words rolled hot and hasty off my bitter tongue.
Francie, my little woman, looked at me with eyes the size of dinner plates and blue as a china doll's. They were swimming with tears.
"Mom, she said quietly, you didn't even say good morning to me. You didn't even look at me. You just told me to clean my room today."
Oh cringe. Hard.
But my raging mood would not let go. I immediately wanted to justify my behavior. I wanted to tell them all how tired I was and how I am always getting things ready in the morning and just once can't they do some things for themselves for crying out loud!
By some miracle, instead of all that, I hugged her and I said, "You're right. I'm sorry. Good morning, lovey."
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
And just like that, my mood dissipated. The veil lifted and the morning was reclaimed. I was still tired, but the kids chattered happily, and Rob smiled and we kissed each other.
All it took was one hurt girl and seven words to bring us back to center.