There is a new normal round here.
Alarm goes off at 6a.
I reach for my phone & clumsily scroll through a few social networks while I blink hard to clear away the bleariness. Wake up! Between 6:15 and 6:30 I pull on yoga pants, a sweatshirt, a hat, and my shoes. A quick swing by the chicken coop to let the hens out, and then I'm putting ear buds in my ears and heading out for a walk. Mostly I breath, and try to be present. What I try not to do is scroll through and/or update my online calendar. No planning yet, lady.
Be. Here. Now.
Sunrise. Boats. Soaring herons. Happy dogs.
This is MY time.
7:15 I'm back. Now it's Parent Time. But if I can, I snag a quick, drought-conscious (solo) shower. I can still hear the white noise playing ocean sounds in the bedroom so I lay out breakfast for Nia ont he bar (she's in her cereal every single day phase and please-don't-mix-it-with-oats-or-mix-coconut-milk-into-the-cow-milk) and plan her lunch, as well as jot down ingredients for the green smoothie Joe and I will share. Soon Nia wakes and I get her dressed in the clothes she chose the night before.
We are like a well-oiled machine. (Sometimes.)
Now Joe is up and we tag-team. One of us does Nia's lunch, one does the smoothie. I brush Nia's hair in between, and also pack what ingredients I can for the food I'll cook later in the day. Grocery list? Check. Canvas grocery bag? Check. Cookies for Teacher Appreciation Week? Check. Laptop, paperwork, cell phone charger? Check. Text the parents in the carpool ("I'm on my way!"), grab the booster seat, and Nia and I are out (leaving Joe with a mountain of dishes and chasing after me with my smoothie to-go cup).
It's a 20-minute drive to school and I love every minute. Everett is talking about "How to Train Your Dragon" (there are WAY more dragons in the books than in the movie!), Nia and Anika are drawing (sorry, baby, I can't look right now, I'm driving, but I bet your mandala is gorgeous). Arrive at school, my arms are full of lunches, bags, flip flops in case it gets hot, sweatshirts in case it is cold, three booster seats, stuffed animals for cuddle time, and Anika's unicycle. Whole-school morning circle, then kisses good-bye. Deep breath. (God, it always smells so good here!)
Back to the old apple orchard/parking lot and slide behind the wheel. Exhale.
Now I glance at my online calendar. Where are we going today, what time do we have to be there? Stop at the grocery store for ginger ale and rice pudding makings. And then a 45-minute drive up the mountain. Up the same roads I traversed as a child, back to a house that hasn't changed a lot since I left home, but now contains just one of our five-person family, and a dog I never lived with.
With that I slip out of the parent role, and into the daughter role.
Later tonight, I'll drive back down the mountain, back toward the sea. I'll arrive home sometime between dinner and bedtime and and gather up my girl in my arms. Inhaling the smells of her day off her warm skin and tousled hair, she'll snuggle into my neck. Mama!
We'll climb into bed together and loose ourselves in Encyclopedia Brown. (How does he do it?!) I'll fall asleep exhausted with Nia snuggled close. Later Joe will slide in beside us.
The middle place.
Between my father, my brothers, my husband, and my child. It's challenging, for sure.
But there is no place I'd rather be right now.
NOTE: The title for this post is a tribute to a book I'm currently reading about a woman who's father was diagnosed with bladder cancer just as she was finishing her own chemo for breast cancer. I carry this book with me everywhere these days. It is like having a friend with me who REALLY gets this weird stage in my life. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. Thanks, Karah, for turning me on to this book!