In their book, Bless This House: Prayers For Families And Children, Gregory and Suzanne Wolfe write about how “mornings seem to be the special province of young children”, about how it’s hard for parents to keep up with the incredible energies of a child freshly awake. Bethany and I know this first hand. Coulter has more energy than any creature I’ve ever seen from the moment he wakes up to moment he finally falls asleep, his stuffed animals gathered around him like a pack of friends. We spend more time than I could ever track asking one another “how does he have the energy to do that!?”.
And in the mornings, when I’m dug out of my burrow by the smiling face of my nearly one-year-old, the sleep soggy in my eye sockets and my shoulders weary from what always feels like too little rest, I’m always amazed by the joy and excitement with which Coulter meets a new day.
The Wolfes write about this:
“Perhaps here, as in so many other aspects of our lives, children can remind us of something that we adults – with all our burdens, responsibilities, and anxieties - have lost sight of: that mornings should be greeted with wonder and gratitude.”
I was convicted when I read this.
I hate waking up. That’s not hyperbole. I genuinely dislike it.
It seemingly takes me hours to work my way into the day, to arrive at a state of mind and body in which, and through which, I can achieve anything even moderately productive. I wake up sluggish and, far too often, grumpy, and, I am realizing, if I’m not careful my children will see that in me and themselves might begin to wonder if maybe this whole being alive each new day phenomenon isn’t all that wonderful after all.
For now, my son is enamored with the experience of being alive. Like most kids, he watches carefully everything that’s happening around him. He points and says “ish” (I think it stands for “this” or “that) and he stands on his toys to see over the window sill so he can watch the squirrels steal tomatoes from our garden and the cat sun bathe on the trash can and the neighbor’s do yard work. He loves trucks and bushes and bottles and books and things that he can push around the house like a walker and he loves to push the keys on mom’s keyboard and to look at pictures on her camera. He loves to experience new things and learn new words and he loves to be praised.
I’m not sure that he understands yet what it means to be thankful but I do know that he is thankful – for food, for mom, for baths, even for sleep – and certainly for the gift of life. I know because he tells us. Not through words, although he does use his own various exclamations, but through his temperament and his excitement and his joy.
To be awakened each morning is among the most concrete and visible gifts God gives us. And for my own spiritual welfare and so that my son’s joy may be lasting, I am committed to being thankful, even as I wearily drag myself out of bed and into the adventure that is every new day.