Mornings are kind of hectic in my household.
Get up. Prayer. Shower. Breakfast. Coffee. Must not forget coffee. It would be dangerous to drive without coffee.
Get kid #4 up.
She does not like to be rushed. Help her get dressed, get breakfast, comb her hair (oh how I love her hair), make sure she has brushed her teeth. She often lies about having actually brushed her teeth.
Make sure kid #3 is up.
He is relatively easy. He is a sweetheart. A bit of a grump in the mornings, but very sweet. I think I’ll keep him.
Kid #2 likes to make a last-minute dramatic entrance. Thirty seconds before we have to leave. Everything is a bit… dramatic with her. But oh how she shines.
(Kid #1 is in college. Hooray!)
Mornings are rushed. Breakfast. Get dressed. Don’t forget lunch boxes. Pack their backpacks.
We are the family that is late to school. Always late. Perpetually late. Late every day. Be kind to the family who is late. You never know what their mornings are like.
Set the alarm 15 minutes earlier? Late.
Make lunch the night before? Late.
Pick out the outfits the night before? Still late.
Every morning it’s like this. It’s a battle with serenity, and we lose every morning. Sure, we lose with some laughter, amused at the circus show that is a family.
Somehow I fake having my act together for the world. But at home, it’s a beautiful kind of mess every morning.
Every morning, there is a bit of a fire drill. Alarms going off. At some point, the calm and serene Sufi-wannabe, Jedi-wannabe Baba (“daddy” in Persian) turns into a fire drill sergeant. “Everybody go go go. Hurry hurry hurry. Get your stuff, get in the car. Now now now.” I don’t know why I think raising the volume of my voice would somehow make them move faster.
These days we move even slower. Just when I thought I had the hang of things, life throws me a wrinkle. My little baby, kid #4, has a bad sprain in her foot. She’s on crutches, and well, everything moves s…..l…..o…..w…..e…..r.
Walking? Takes longer.
Getting dressed? Longer.
Getting her brace on? Longer.
Crawling to brush her teeth? Longer.
Getting downstairs to have breakfast? Much, much longer.
Getting to the door? Longer.
So ever since my little angel twisted her ankle, mornings are even more stressful.
Yesterday morning I was going through the same routine. I was by the door, and since I knew that it would take the little angel some time to get into the car, I told her to get a head start. I pushed the button to open the door of the minivan, and went back to get the other kids pushed out of the house. I am the Malcolm X father: I will get them out of the house By Any Means Necessary.
By the time I came back outside, my little girl (#4) was in the car, in her booster seat.
In one smooth motion, I jumped in, slammed the door, buckled myself in, and was ready for the best Jason Bourne driving routine to school. When I looked back in the rear view mirror, I saw my little girl in tears. (I am a good driver, always check the mirror. Other people have babies too.)
Slammed on the break.
“Honey, what is wrong?”
The sweet girl mentioned, “You didn’t notice it.”
My mind is racing. “Didn’t notice what, my love?”
She softly repeated, “You didn’t notice it.”
My mind is racing more, “For the love of Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha… I just want to want to get you all to the school before you are more late. You are in the car. I am in the car. We are all in the car. Do we really need to talk about this now?”
I park the car. I turn around, and face her fully, “Jan-am (“my soul”), what did I not notice?”
She softly answered: “The door.”
I came out of the car, and circled the car. I didn’t see anything. No dents, no scratches. Nothing I could see. I looked at her beautiful brown eyes, and she softly repeated, but with a smile this time: “Your door.”
So I went over to my own door, the same one that I had slammed in my rush. And there it was.
The door, in fact the whole car, was covered in morning dew. And then, written onto the morning dew, in the handwriting that can only come from the fingers of a beautiful little girl filled with love, were the three most magical, most powerful words of all:
I love you.
Under the sentence was a picture she had drawn into the morning dew of herself, a beautiful smiling girl, with the most magical long hair.
There is love, and it is real. I am loved. She wanted me to know that in the midst of all this chaos, I am loved.
Sometimes it is written in dew. It is here for a few minutes, and then g o n e. The love behind it lingers, onto eternity. So often I’ve been told to stop and smell the roses. If only. Roses linger for a while. They start out in a perfect little bud, slowly slowly opening, into that perfect form, before wilting while scattering every last bit of their scent. Sometimes their essence is preserved and lingers. There is a beauty, profound beauty there in the rose. But sometimes beauty is written in the morning dew. It is a beauty that you have to be present to, A beauty to witness A beauty to welcome. It is as transient as a smile on the face of a child Who wants to know if her Baba is paying attention. May angel, May I always be present Fully To catch your love poems Written in dew.
It is not always about stopping to smell the roses. To invite the gentlest and most tender loveliness, sometimes we have to be present to even quicker bursts of beauty.