Morning

4:54 am (minus 7 minutes): I wake up to the sound of the literal early birds chirping outside my apartment. A glance at the clock tells me it is 4:54 am. The clock is 7 minutes fast, and I am too tired to do the math, but not tired enough to sleep. My mind and body have been at odds this week about when I should be awake, and I feel the familiar pressure of the anxiety that has been with me all week. I lay there wondering if I should get up to make coffee.

7:02 am: So it begins.

Violet is calling me to get Fitz, who, when I arrive in her room, is trying to figure out the best dive position to take to escape the loft bunk and dash gleefully to me to take him out for his morning ritual. He has me well trained. When I get back in the apartment, I find Violet in the throws of an emotional meltdown. She has nothing to wear. I make coffee.

7:34 am: Dog fed. Coffee poured. Breakfast made. The child is crying in the kitchen because she has yoga at school today, and her pants “feel funny,” and her favorite romper is dirty. I go to her room to try to help, but I can do nothing to quiet whatever little inner monster is tormenting her mind. I feel my anxiety increasing, and there is a moment I look at her about to dismiss her feelings on the pants and tell her to “suck it up, buttercup.” I pause. She is in distress, and she doesn't need mine. She needs a hug. That’s what we do. I find clean pants that are acceptable. She melts down again because she feels bad for having melted down. I need more coffee.

7:48 am: I am making Violet’s lunch. Fitz has put his face in her scrambled eggs, and more crying ensues. Two thoughts pop into my head. 1) I can fix this. 2) There’s not enough coffee.

8:31 am: School drop-off goes smoothly (thank God!), and I am hoping her day is heading in a smoother direction as well. I am in my car, feeling overwhelmed by the morning and the day ahead of me. As I am waiting for traffic to pass at the stop sign near the school, I think about the dishes in the sink, the mountain of seemingly impossible deadlines to meet, and I feel my anxiety rising. Then, I glimpse a little girl walking with her father and siblings towards the school. She looks to be about 5 years old, has two blonde ponytails with mismatched scrunchies. Her bright yellow top is in stark contrast with what I can only assume are mermaid pants — iridescent green with fins flaring at the bottom. She is skipping and finds a puddle left from someone’s irrigation system and proceeds to jump heavily into it, sending water up and everywhere. The look of pure joy washes over her face in that one simple moment. *Click* goes the little camera in my head.

8:32 am: I turn left and drive away with that moment etched on my brain. Joy. I am taking that home with me — the reminder to focus on the joy; the rest is just noise.

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Amber Guilbeault

Quip artist, photographer, marketer, writer(?), mother, and casual observer of people and the randomness of the world around me