It’s 5:00am and the house is dark and quiet. My husband and son are sound asleep, but my daughter is awake and so am I. She comes downstairs, groggy and exhausted in her workout clothes. I greet her with a warm smile and gentle hug, knowing she is starting her day too early after being up too late studying the night before.
My teen daughter gets up early and I get up with her.
She has dedicated these pre-dawn hours to taking a cycling class every day before school to keep in shape, after quitting the sport that pushed her to train six days a week. I’m amazed at her commitment to these early morning workouts and want to help support her any way I can. Her afternoons and evenings are filled with other activities, so this seemed to be the best choice for her. I can’t even believe I have a teen who is choosing to get up so early to exercise, but my girl is motivated and disciplined beyond her years.
I don’t know how she does it. How she continues to work so hard in school, participate in all her ministry groups, hold down a job, and keep an active social life, but she does it all and does it pretty darn well. Her favorite night of the week is the night she spends serving those in need at the homeless shelter downtown. How I ended up with such an incredible teen, I’ll never know, but I’m grateful every day for the gift of raising her.
I walk her out to her car in the cold darkness because she’s a bit anxious about doing it alone. Her fear of the dark reminds me that in some ways she is still a child, despite her grown-up responsibilities. I stand and wait until she drives away, so she feels safe. She’s still my baby and this truth fills a sweet silence in the air. I feel a sense of maternal honor that she trusts in my protection.
I head back into the house to the kitchen, where I prepare her coffee and egg sandwich for breakfast. The nourishment and caffeine seem to help her get through to her late lunch period. Then I get started on her lunch. Cutting up cheese and apples and putting crackers and carrots in bags, I take a deep grateful breath as I’m filled with an exhausted joy in doing these tedious tasks for my girl.
I serve my daughter in the morning because I love and appreciate her.
Although, I am not a morning person, I get up and do these things out of the sheer love and appreciation for all she’s doing at such a young age. I love serving her in the morning, no matter how exhausted I am. I love being there for her in the groggy fog when she is weary and simply needs my presence to find her way through it.
An hour or so later, she comes through the door, sweaty and red-faced, and tells me that the class was so hard. I tell her that I am proud of her, as she rushes upstairs to change her clothes. She only has a few minutes before she needs to race out the door to get to school on time. When she comes back down, she asks me to quickly braid her wet hair, and as I do we talk about the rest of her day.
She picks up her backpack, her lunch, and water bottle, while I grab her workbag, coffee and egg sandwich that she plans to eat first period. I wish I could thank her Spanish teacher for allowing her to do so. I walk with her out to her car, both of us carrying the heavy weight of both her things and the day ahead. We hurriedly put it all in the back of her car, careful to not spill the coffee or smash the sandwich.
She gets in behind the wheel as I stand at her driver’s side door and begin our daily ritual of prayer. She stills herself for this precious moment of peace before she heads on her way into a day packed with hard things, challenging decisions, new experiences, and exciting opportunities too.
I always remind her to drive safely, no matter how late she is. I tell her I love her so much. I tell her how proud I am of her and to have a good day.
I stand in the driveway waving while I watch her drive away.
These mornings are sacred to me. I want my girl to feel loved and cared for each morning as she wakes up and begins her day. She could surely make her own coffee, her own breakfast, and lunch too. She could push through her fear and walk out to her car in the dark cold mist and she could throw her hair up in a messy bun and be okay. But while she’s still living at home, while she’s working so hard and doing so much good in her life and in this world, I want nothing more than to be there for her and make these moments matter.
Being her mom is an extravagant blessing I try to never take for granted. It can be exhausting, tedious, irritating, demanding, and terrifying, too. I don’t always do it well, but in the early morning hours, I feel a sense of peace about our morning routine. No matter what has happened the day before or what will transpire in the day to come, mornings are when I serve my girl best, because I believe launching my kids off into their day with the assurance that they are loved and cared for is the most important thing I can do. It takes dedication and a good dose of energy for this tired old mom, but I’m gifted with the time and means to do it.
I don’t have many mornings left with my girl. I often wonder how she will start her days when she is on her own. Sometimes I think I should step back and let her wake up and do it all for herself. Sometimes I worry I am doing too much for her, enabling her to not practice the morning’s tedious tasks during these last few years she’s here.
But my presence in her first hours of the day are more important to me than her learning to manage her morning routine. I have hope that she’ll figure that out just fine.
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