Mornings

My first job after college was doing field work in Oregon, working rotating shifts. In the mornings when I was on afternoon shift, I would set up a tray table and folding chair on my back porch, and eat breakfast while looking out onto the Columbia River Gorge to the mountains across the river. Sometimes I went hiking for a few hours in the mountains, and showed up to work already full of sweat and the scent of spruce.

When I was single and living alone in Alaska, I dedicated one morning every weekend to lounging in bed. I would stay in bed for hours, drifting in and out of sleep and daydreams, reading books, or writing. When I finally rose after noon to run errands or find the day’s adventures, I was sated from soaking in my relaxing bed and all the daydreams I could muster.

My favorite mornings were the weekend mornings spent with my husband, pre-baby. On Saturday mornings we would both sleep our fill and wake up slowly and sleepily. I loved waking up to him, cuddling close and warm with the luminous day settling around us. We talked and laughed and daydreamed with the vulnerability of having not yet been hardened by the world outside our bed. Those mornings felt like the beginning, the dawn of something wide and wonderful where anything was possible.

These days I am startled awake early by a cry on the baby monitor, pulling me fast and far through many deep layers of sleep. The unrelenting cries pierce through all the efforts of my brain to disappear back into the pillow, and I rise reluctantly to go to the baby’s room. She sits up in her crib and looks at me expectantly while I pick her up and change her diaper. Then we sit in the rocker and she nurses hungrily while I soak in her warm baby smell and try to catch the last rays of relaxation, before she wiggles out of my arms and it’s time to start the day’s race.

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