Early mornings are on my mind, and etched deep into my ever-expanding parental heart.
There’s no regular rhythm to the early rising in our household. I am the only constant, the bassline, I guess. Currently, the baby wakes, confused, raising his globular cheeks from the mattress, shrieking with the indignity of it all, at about 4.30am. He grasps and pats my face, as if he doesn’t quite believe I’m there. Each time, I think to myself that I know how he feels. We go downstairs, wake the dog from his upside-down dreams, and release the kitchen from the sleepy dog smell that, as families with them know, becomes normal, and, well, nice.
Between five minutes and three hours later, my girl pads downstairs, brimming with her imaginings of the morning, as if she were a bath on the verge of sluice – the meniscus of the mind spilling over at the sight of me. The thoughts jump and land randomly, like popcorn thrown in front of a fan, and then they’re over, because the TV is there and she wants it on and she wants Weetabix and then, silence.
She’s always been like that. Thoughtful, prone to liking her own space, whilst at the same time keeping me snared into attention with some carefully timed edicts requesting further breakfast, or a change of channel. I know she can do the latter herself, but she likes to draw me away from the baby and be there with her. Sometimes, I just want to slide in next to her on the red sofa and sit in silence as she does.
Instead, I perch in the kitchen, passing the baby an infinite stream of chewable items, all of which he drops. We perform this eyes-closed relay seamlessly, I can eat cereal with the wrong hand now, just so I can still pass behind me when I hear that impatient grunting.
The house, especially at this time of year, is filled with light and shadow. We have a lot of windows, and windows that are actually doors, and soaring beams of light from our Solstro roof window. My girl has always been fascinated by shadows, ever since we talked about how your shadow is always with you.
Oh, I’m going to miss this. Not just the beautiful light that the early morning throws down on my family and our house, but the fact that I have had this time with them both. My shadows, my morning light. It’s not always a pleasure, and it’s not always a chore, either, to be up early with my children. Because, when school starts and real, institutional tiredness sets into my big girl, I don’t think she’ll sparkle like she does now, first thing.
Our living room is so light, and with the doors that are windows leading outside, she often slips outdoors, whatever the hour, to find something exciting to do. This week, before I had time to turn away from the baby, she was out there, crouched, drawing with chalk.
Mummy, can you see my balloon?
And there on the stones was her hot air balloon, and behind her, serene in the light summer sky, a real hot air balloon. It was, the perfect, perfect memory. I grabbed my phone and captured it forever.
I’ll remember this light, and keep it for when times get a bit darker, and things are more rushed and fractured. These are the easy times ,for these early risers at least.