The sound in the kitchen woke me from my too-short slumber. It wasn’t a happy sound. Morning. Already?
“You made me spill the milk!”
“You pushed me!”
“I didn’t mean to.”
The 7-year-old and 5-year-old were up early getting breakfast. Which is usual.
The arguing continued in a ridiculous manner and I felt annoyance with an edge of anger wash over me as I pushed myself from the warm bed. These two usually get on well, but at the moment, they constantly clash, and I feel weary of it. I need to give the situation some thought. Or time.
I followed the noise of two children squabbling to the kitchen to find cereal over the bench and a trickle of milk splashing on the floor.
“STOP IT!” My first words of the morning.
“Clean it up. Get your breakfast. Sit at the table. Be quiet. Eat. Build a bridge. MOVE. ON. Now. Go!”
It wasn’t a well thought out reaction. All I could seem to manage, after being woken in such a fashion, was a string of barked words. I wasn’t interested in sorting out the problem, facilitating a peaceful resolution or waiting until they thrashed it out. I just wanted it to stop. It was a response from a tired mum wanting some morning peace. Or at the very least, a cup of tea before a battle.
From that moment, I felt like I was tripping over myself. The usual morning rush had an extra strain and I felt my world crowd in around me. You know those times when you feel like everything is not-good and you’re doing everything wrong? And even though you know it’s not as bad as it seems, you still feel it? That.
“Get in the car!”
With my toothbrush in hand, I called out to the children 5 minutes before leaving time. The usual process is this: the children get their bags, hats and anything else needed for the day, like instruments, and head out to the garage. The older two help the younger children, and by the time I get to the car, they are all waiting. I check seat belts and we go. I followed the children out the door after a few moments.
Locking the back door behind me, I walked through the patio to the car. I noticed a single sock on the grey tiles and sighed. It was sitting there, in all its soggy, dirty, lonely glory — mocking me.
All was quiet when I reached the car.
I put my key to the ignition when something made me stop.
Incredibly sweet voices in perfectly timed union echoed through the car.
“G-o-o-d m-o-r-n-i-n-g M-u-m!”
How can I describe it? Like surfacing from underwater — as the water parts and falls away, caressing the circumference of your face to give way to the delicious kiss of cool air — so too I felt the heaviness of the morning troubles roll off my shoulders in a moment as a smile flooded my body and ended on my face.
Thank you God for sweet moments like this, yes? These moments always take me by surprise — never to be taken from granted — and they make me wonder how a mother with so many flaws can have the love — such genuine love — of such interesting, frustrating, beautiful children.
“Good morning!” I responded. The lightness in my voice reflected my smile. It may have been the first kind word I spoke for the day.
I can’t remember which of the children started it but on the drive to school, they all, in turn, shared something they were looking forward to for the day. I listened in astonished delight.
This interaction with the children changed the course of my entire day. It reminded me of two things: one is that sometimes, it only takes a kind word to brighten someone’s day; and two: amongst the clouds, there is always a glimmer of light, and when it comes, celebrate it with jig-worthy joy, because there is more truth in the external silent beams that shine from somewhere beautiful, than the hazy whispers of doubt in your head.