Since the dawn of time, I’m up before dawn. I slink and tip-toe, crash my nose into some walls, then flinch to hear how loud poured coffee sounds when all else is so loudly quiet. I creep to the porch with a stumble and slosh of caffeine, a wiping of crust from eyes, to wait for you.
These hushed hours I usually spend worrying about big things you are too small for. You’ll get better at this as you grow older. The wasting of perfectly good minutes takes years of life and training. I can tell you the general scheme of things: Immediate disappointment that the house is not cleaner than the night before and that your six-pack is frowning while new silver hairs across your head are jumping for joy. Jump at the sounds of an intruder. Realize that was the pop of your ankles not that of a Glock. Ponder politics. Remember you forgot to remind yourself to pay the bill. Wonder what Oprah’s up to. Experience sudden irrational fear of your teeth falling out. Touch your teeth. Run your lingering finger across your chin. Stress out about unsightly adult chin acne your doctor says is a result of stress. On second thought, please never get the hang of it.
The light arches. Suddenly there is a sun and it is bending and bending until it breaks wide open to the day. And I hear you punt kick a stuffed giraffe and sing to yourself again. It seems fitting that you show up right with the light. I shuffle across the floor, wait at your door to hear who you will be.
You are a spectacular shifting thing. Bright and fresh, rise and shine, you are always something new. Where as we old ones stick to waking tired, worry and clean and work and love on schedule, you are a surprise each morning. So I take a break from all my old and feel a little thrill to see what shape you’ll take today . Will you be brave? Will you be counting numbers I never knew you knew? Will today be the day you learn that biking up hills is a pain in the gluts? That geese are the grumpy old men of the bird kingdom? That Play-Doh tastes like cardboard? That those “spooky dragon lizards” are dinosaurs? That dinosaurs are gone? Will you understand today that it’s okay to run freely, to sit alone, to hug instead of punch? Will you wake up heavy and sleep drunk, sweet when hazy? Will you be punching the air, feisty and fiercely ready to kick this world’s ass? This morning maybe you will roar like lions do. Maybe I will come upon you reciting those rap lyrics I taught you yesterday. Maybe we’ll forget to tell your father that. Maybe you will look at me intently, snotty nose dripping, flu-ish fingers fidgeting for the right words. And when I ask you how you’re feeling this morning you might tell me so clear and purposefully that you feel happy, really happy. Possibly, any day now, I will open your door to find a large, bearded man busting from your crib. His hairy knees crouched up to chin in a unfortunatley tiny crib. You’ll wave a hand at me as your cell begins to chime. “I’ve gotta take this,” you’ll be flustered as you scramble for your glasses. I’ll glide impatiently in the rocking chair, waiting for Baby to get off the Blackberry and out of bed.
This morning, though, I take a cue from you. I spend these minutes wide awake and in awe of the mornings before this one. I remember the very first morning, both too sleepy and comfortable to bother introducing ourselves. There was a Spring morning not long after I came in to find you smiling. Suddenly you had a smile and a knowing about you. The icy sunrise I watched as you shook awake from sleep and called me Mom with your own mouth. The day last I crept in to find you’d shed all your baby skin overnight. I will hear you laugh or yell, bounce across the bed, sing the Tupac song I am starting to regret. I’ll shuffle one more time, this morning, to you. With head bowed and resting on your door, hands hovering over knob, I’ll hope to breathe just quiet enough to steal a few seconds. I’ll want just to catch a glimpse of you in all your you-ness. I will delight that only this special morning I get at least a little hint of who you are today.
This morning you’ll be three. And I’ll be so glad to meet you.