"Mom!" Stephanie pokes her head out of her door.
"Are you dressed?"
"No, but my valentine's box is due today." She comes into the hall, halfway dressed -- school clothes on top, jammie pants on bottom.
"What valentine's box?"
"For the party. We were supposed to make one. You didn't let me do it."
Fire crackles inside of me. I clench my teeth and remind myself to be kind. After all, it is the morning, a fragile time when things can go from good to insanely awful in a heartbeat.
"I didn't know you had a project to complete. You didn't tell me."
"Yeah, I forgot. I'm going to do it now, since you didn't let me do it last night."
Instead of freaking out, I silently count to three. Then to five. Then to ten. Stephanie is twirling and singing. I want to shake her. I tell myself this isn't worth getting worked up over.
"If you didn't tell me, then I didn't know, so it isn't my fault your project isn't done."
"It's not my fault!" she screeches. I imagine a flashing danger light bleeping its warning. The morning is in danger of losing its peace. I tell myself we can talk about accepting responsibility later.
I take another deep breath and try not to sigh as I blow it out. My voice is tight as I muster the last thread of patience I can find. "When you are ready, totally ready -- clothes, teeth, hair, breakfast -- totally and completely ready, we will see if we can figure out the valentine's box...if there is time!"
"Okay!" She spins again. "I'll hurry!" She returns to her room. I still want to shake her.
This kind of thing happens in our house. In fact, it happens more often than it doesn't. I'm beginning to think it is unavoidable. No matter how much we plan ahead, no matter how informed I attempt to be, we still have surprises in the mornings.
I've decided these things aren't worth getting worked-up over. It's one of those decisions that is much easier to accept while snuggled in the corner of the couch, quilt draped over my legs, lap top balanced on my knees, and kids sleeping upstairs than it is at 6:37 on a school morning.
It was nothing slight of a miracle that she was able to put together a decent looking box to take to school and meet the deadline. Hannah, in that quiet way she has, volunteered her old box. We added a duct tape flower Stephanie made a few weeks ago and then she designed a leaf with her name on it.
There were no raised voices. No flailing hands. No Why-didn't-you-tell-me-this-before? Instead I rolled with it. I let it go and waited to see how things unfolded. It is hard to let things like this go. It is even harder to bite my tongue in the middle of it.
This is the actual miracle of the morning.
Too bad I don't get it right like this more often.
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