About a month ago in the early morning, I spent 20 or 30 minutes I didn’t have, writing about what I should have (and would have otherwise) been doing instead. It was, more or less, a stream-of-consciousness lament about not having enough time. I was late getting the kids to school that morning. Parenting.
If happiness is created by our willingness to adapt to change, then I should be due for a special delivery any day now. Because on Monday of this week, I made a long-overdue adaptation to a particularly frustrating change that (as so many frustrating changes do) had crept up on me over the course of around a year:
I stopped cooking my kids breakfast in the morning.
Look, don’t freak out, I didn’t stop feeding them. I stopped cooking for them, because they almost never ate what I made.
Every morning had come to include an infuriating power-struggle wherein I tried to either intuit or coax from them what they wanted to eat (spinach and onion omelet with no cheese, breakfast burrito with red not green sauce and pepper jack cheese and two eggs, oatmeal but not the steel cut kind with brown sugar and milk but not butter and not the grass-fed organic skim milk, and in any case pulp-free orange juice or pulpy orange juice depending on whothefuckknowswhatoreverwill), and then I prepared it carefully and lovingly in a ritual that robbed me of patience and time, the stressful consequences of such deficits being in short order visited back upon their intended beneficiaries, and then… then… then: the rugrats threw conservatively two thirds of their breakfast in the trash amid such scathingly persnickety complaints that I’d damn near call the pre-crime division myself just to make easier the inevitable.
That this ritual was but one hurried chapter among many in our morning routine made it, I suppose, easyish to dispense with in favor of
something anything better. And the something better, I decided, was going to include me sitting on my ass drinking coffee for 30 minutes before waking them up. But wait, that’s not all. Because after I sat on my ass drinking coffee for 30 minutes, I decided, I would take a comforting and hot bath before waking them up. And I would get dressed. And I would do all these things, I decided, before even thinking about whether or when my kids might starve to death or die of malnutrition if I didn’t sacrifice my sanity to the capricious gods of early-morning meal-preparation each day.
So on Monday, I tried it out. And when I woke up the boys at 6:45 (instead of 6:15), they rolled out of bed slowly as always but I didn’t hurry them (because what for, after all when there was no breakfast to eat before leaving at 7:20 for school?) and Conner, who is the most unlikely barometer of the most unlikely ethos changes at times said to me, “Dad? Why does it feel so calm today?”
Seriously, he notices it before I do, but he’s spot on.
"I guess it’s because I decided not to make you and Jack breakfast today," I reply.
"Oh," he says, "how come?" So I tell him.
"Sounds smart," he says, and at this point, I’ve gone from
mad angry scientist to full-on believer.
"Do you mind if I make myself toast," he asks, and I practically die with disbelief.
That was Monday, and I haven’t done more breakfast-prep than toast a bagel since. They’ve eaten no less than before this week. They may have even eaten more. I’m not sure, because I’ve stopped paying such close attention. There hasn’t been a single breakfast struggle, and we haven’t been late to school. What has happened, though, is that I’ve left the house not in a flurry but in the flow, every morning this week.
It’s a timely Spring reminder for this parent with seasonal affective issues: Change is a good thing. Embrace it every now and then, jackass.