The morning’s cool air hits my arm, having breezed in from the open window and I tuck it under the covers, feeling a heat wave that draw my eyelids back down to their resting place. The sleeping bodies of my son and husband offer enough heat to keep me dozey for days. A little foot is hooked between my thighs and the sweet’n’sour smell of sleep waffes into my nose. I turn my head, re-open my eyes to the bright grey sky. My son’s hand is softly open on my pillow, holds no tension and I instinctively place my thumb in the palm of his hand, wondering if he’ll still squeeze it in his ripe old age of 3. He is so quiet when he sleeps. I smile at this profound revelation. He is so beautiful – looks like my grandfather, reminds me of my father, behaves like me. I don’t want to get up, I know that moving my body risks stirring him awake and then the quiet will end. After his 3 years; my daughter’s 9 years, I am tired. I am wounded and I react badly to loud sounds.
The cool air nudges me out of my nest and I breathe my last soft moments. I eye my husband lightly snoring on the other side of the bed, the cat curled around his head. When I get up I will put my socks and pants on in preparation of taking the dog out for her morning walk. I know that I will put my jacket on louder than I need to, that I will not try to stop the dog leash from hitting the wall and I will begin my day resenting that my husband is still enjoying the warmth beneath the covers. After 10 years, I am tired. I am wounded and I react badly to men lying in bed when there is a dog to walk.
Outside, the street is covered in a light frost, the bushes decorated with winter garbage. My dog lunges for squirrles. I’ve stopped reprimanding her. I duck down the streets I am least likely to run into anybody, because I do not have the energy to discipline her anymore when she whines for the attention of other dogs she is desperate to play with. I walk through the chilly air and know my husband is getting up, risking the great threat of our son waking up to my absence and having an early morning tantrum. He must be terrified every morning. He precariously gets up, having already faced one of the biggest fears we carry, and he turns on kettle. He wakes up our daughter and he makes the tea. I bring the dog to her favourite place to do her business. He empties her lunch box from yesterday. I pick up dog poo. He makes one or two or three or four breakfasts. I stroll myself down an extra street, he makes a lunch or two. We meet in the living room before 7am and I drink my warm tea. There is little to say.
Convincing the kids that the morning is chilly, and therefore requires appropriate attire, is each and every day a shocking challenge. In the moments that I wrestle shoes on unresponsive feet I curse the chill that first woke me. When I’m hunting for the only sweater that my son wears, I curse the frost that refuses to leave our city, that forces me to lose my temper. I blame it for my lack of patience, for my quick swear words directed at my shitty kids, and I imagine a world that is warm and requires no layering of clothing.
Oddity: I am unapologetic about loving hot cars. It’s my favourite moment, on a hot summer day, to climb into a hot car and just suffocate in the heat for a few moments. I am always the last to roll down my window, ignoring the shouts and chides of my family who are pushing their faces to the down rolling window for their fresh air. I wait until I’ve sat in the dead heat just long enough and only then will I break the hot weight by letting the fresh air stream in. My love for hot cars is rivalled only by my hatred for cold ones. Like a cruel punishment, we have somehow managed to get to the kids up, fed, prepped and dressed for the day; we have managed to get them down the hallway of our building – our building filled with crazies who constantly leave signs about not running, not shouting, not toddlering in the hallways – without pissing anyone off; we have literally stopped to smell the dead flowers (dead from the persistent frost) … only to be met with a cold car.
Our daughter gets dropped off behind her school – a glimpse into her growing embarrassment of her parents. ‘Drop me off where nobody can see us together‘ her eyes hiss. Her only job when getting out of the car is to say good-bye to her adoring brother. My son keeps his eyes stuck on her from the moment she unclips her seatbelt until she disappears down the path. He waves with an exuberance that breaks my heart every morning – and he cries if he is robbed of a proper good-bye. My daughter knows this and exerts her power over him every once in a while by ‘forgetting’ to wave, by ‘smiling’ with her lips tight and her eyes rolled. When she does this, my husband and I roll down our windows and shout at her to ‘wave properly! Smile! Say good-bye to your brother!‘ It is exponentially more embarrassing for her but I am committed to making her life miserable each and every time she tries to shirk her morning responsibility.
Our son gets dropped off at daycare – and it can really go either way with him. Sometimes he runs into the arms of the workers and sometimes he clings to our legs in not-so-silent protest. The exit is swift and sometimes gut wrenching.