Morning’s joy taught by daughterPublished 12:02am Sunday, September 29, 2013
Not quite eight months ago, my morning routine changed forever — and for good.
The change was a welcomed and appreciated one. This wasn’t something trivial like the grocery store no longer carrying my favorite kind of coffee.
This was life-changing stuff. In the wee hours of Feb. 14, Julie and I headed to the hospital for the birth of our daughter, Anna, and our lives haven’t been the same since.
She’s growing up fast, and the idea that we’re responsible for teaching this little person how to be a good person is starting to sink in a bit. As the weight of parental responsibility sinks in, one of the most impressive realizations has been just how much we’ve learned from her already.
My lessons started early in the process — literally.
From the beginning, the morning shift has been mine. No discussion was had — at least none that comes to mind anyway. That my few remaining brain cells were halved in those early sleepless days is almost a certainty.
My wife has never been much of a morning person, so morning shift came to me by default, I’m sure.
Calling our early morning time a “shift” isn’t accurate as it implies it was work-like. The opposite is true.
From the early days, spending time in quiet of early mornings has been a secret little escape for me.
Beyond my footsteps and the occasional bird chirping outside, the house is nearly silent at that time of morning.
Early on, she woke mostly crying, comforted only by my arms and the bottle of food that always accompanied them.
As the weeks passed, the tears turned to smiles as she peered up from the crib and realized another human being had responded to her cries for help.
Now she wakes up thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to see me.
She’s usually on all fours with her head craning to see the door to her room between the crib’s slats.
It’s as if I’m a rock star in my own house.
In a way, at least in Anna’s small world, I am a rock star. Clearly, we need to get her out into the bigger world more.
Stardom will be short-lived, friends who have teenagers tell me, so we’ll just enjoy it while it exists.
All of this, however, isn’t to pat myself on the back. Millions of parents have experienced the same thing. Children are truly gifts from God, but I’m increasingly convinced they’re not just gifts, but teachers too.
Just as we’re to teach them how to become good adults, children can teach us how to become less adult-like sometimes too. Think about how easy it is for all of us to get too caught up in the stresses of life.
We forget sometimes just how amazing it is that we wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and watch the day come to life.
We forget how fascinating wind in our face can truly be — a recent Anna discovery — or how entertaining it is to watch two dogs chase one another around the room.
Life is filled with amazing things — things that many of us take for granted sometimes.
That sense of wonderment that lives in Anna’s eyes is the kind of thing that makes old people smile as they recall their own childhood or their own children.
The realist in me realizes such wonder will fade over time, but the dreamer in me cannot help but consider — how much more fun would her life be if she always held on to that zest for life?
How much more rich would all of our lives be if we woke up with an ear-to-ear smile on our faces?
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.