New morning plan in action for three days now. Every day is a challenge. I don’t know whether I can do it long term, but I plan to do it tomorrow. Oh, I am such a wimp, but I plan to do what needs doing tomorrow.
So, what I do is this. Wake up at 5:45, meditate for 15 minutes, wake up Julia, help her dress and do her hair, make breakfast and Julia’s lunch. She eats then we do strong sitting for 10 minutes and then she is ready to catch the bus.
Major complaints: I hate getting up early. Always have. David used to handle the morning routine. Not that I didn’t get up. Sometimes before him to get to work on time when I was working in federal court in Indy. But he handled the thinking of the morning and did a good deal, no, all of the child prep of lunches and breakfast. Now, remembering that David also did most of his creative writing (not editing) before the sun rose, it should not be surprising that he was the morning manager. And I took the lead after dark when David was snoozing on the couch.
However, needing to take on morning as well as night has been a challenge. I have been cranky about it since David died. I have wanted to shove it off on someone else. I have wanted it to just get done without my energy. I have wanted to whine and whine about it.
But in truth, I just needed to get off my ass and do what needs doing. Julia is not going to take over and get herself up, dressed and on that bus -- not that I expect a 10 year old to do that, but the way I’ve been whining about it, might lead one to expect that wish.
If I can manage the getting up part, the rest falls into place.
I’ve done it for three day. Not an incredible feat, but a step.
Two other thoughts: First, on morning meditation and strong sitting. On the weekend, I upped Julia’s strong sitting time to 15 minutes and she does it with me on the back porch. She uses the zabuton for sitting, I use the zafu. I light incense and we set the timer on my phone. We managed to get through 15 minutes of relatively quiet strong sitting. She loves sitting on the porch. She can watch spiders at the windows. She also loves the incense. She is enamored by The Last Airbender series and that starts with the curls of incense smoke. She really likes the smell.
And she can be relatively still.
But if most grownups struggle with monkey mind, Julia struggles with Monkey everything! I shouldn’t say that she struggles with stillness; it is I that struggles with her stillness or lack thereof. I did not imagine when we began this last spring that it would be easy, and we have certainly come very far from sitting close enough to her to hold her hands and to count together to 20. That’s where we started.
Usually, these days, she will have, at the least, 2 or 3 minutes of silent, strong sitting. Minutes when she is not fiddling with the hands, making faces at me, puffing out her cheeks, batting her eyes, watching spiders, finding new ways to stick out her tongue, trying to make her ears move without touching them. She is a riot! Maybe I should be recording her on video. She is funny enough.
She always surprises me when I catch her being really still. That’s when I think, how long has she been like this, how long will it go on. I would not say that she has reached any kind of deep meditation state, but I would venture to guess that she dips into a light state for seconds at a time a few times a week.
It is a beginning.
Sitting with her before she ran off to catch the bus this morning, set me to thinking about school prayer. I’ve heard the harpies insist that we cannot begin the day without god. I usually ask whose? And have usually suggested in a snide way that if “they” were willing to pray in a way pleasing to me, a liberal religious believer, than prayer would be fine. Actually, when I started this line of conversation, I would suggest that is they wanted to say prayers in Ukrainian, I would be happy to agree with them. But usually, “they” are looking for more mainline protestant praying, and therein is the rub, and my only point in my suggestions. Our children do not all believe the same thing and as Americans we have a responsibility to uphold this sacred diversity. And so, if praying is to go on, it should come from the home.
I have always believed that (well, or send kids to church sponsored school, but don’t begrudge spending good tax revenue on public schools for the neighbor’s kids.) and the more that I sit with Julia in the morning -- taking that extra 10 minutes to do strong sitting before the bus comes -- the more I believe that anyone can do it. I am sure there are exceptions, but if it is important to pray at the beginning of the day. And I would argue that for many reasons, most of which for me at least are very practical, physical, and only in a minor way spiritual, then make whatever sacrifice necessary to find that 10 minutes each morning.
There, the problem of school prayer solved.
This revised morning plan is hopefully a bit temporary in my helping her to get dressed. This summer, I really stuck with having Julia get dressed in the morning and for bed in the evening by herself. This meant that sometimes, it would take up to an hour to get herself downstairs or to bed, depending on the hour. By the end of summer, and with rewards points for dressing moderately quickly, she is doing both herself relatively well.
But dressing time is also a time when Julia can pick on her skin. It is one of the prime alone times of her day, and although I remind her and she swears she remembers, it is the time of the worst damage. And so, I am taking back dressing as a private experience until the scabs heel. I put udder cream or neosporin on every skin sore twice a day. And we talk about heeling and keeping her body whole. I try my best to be even tempered, very kind, and overwhelmingly compassionate. With some luck, I will be able to keep Julia from herself for long enough for scabs and sores to heel. And then, we can start again with dressing time. She is not going to forget how to put on her underwear.