I am not a morning person. What’s more, I’m not a chatty morning person.
I am all but useless in the morning until I have had at least two cups of coffee. And even then, you’re not going to hear much by way of conversation from me. Conversation is not an easy thing for me at my best moments. At my worst, they’re all but impossible.
My older daughter is the opposite. Oh, she’s not a morning person either. It usually takes me about two or three “Kiersten, it’s time to get up for school! NOW!”s to rouse her from bed.
But once she’s awake and upright, she starts talking. And talking, and talking, and talking.
And I hate to say it, but most of the time when she is chattering away in the morning, I can barely make sense of it. I couldn’t tell you, for instance, what she talked to me about this morning, and that was only two hours ago. She used an awful lot of words, but most of them simply did not register.
It is, to be perfectly frank, often a relief when she leaves for school in the morning.
(Just so you don’t think I’m the worst mother in the world: when she returns home from school in the afternoon, it’s a joy to receive her and to listen to her happy stream of chatter. I love hearing her tell me about her day. But at that point I’m awake, alert, and ready to listen. It’s a whole different situation.)
Then there is my younger daughter, Elena. She is the exact opposite of Kiersten: she awakes easily in the morning, but she doesn’t talk much. She’ll say a few words here and there (aside from “Mommy, could I have cereal please?” or “Mommy, can I watch Netflix please?”), but there is not endless stream of chatter like there is with Kiersten.
It is a relief when I’m left alone in the house with her — Kiersten goes to school before Elena does — and there is mostly silence, as Elena eats her breakfast, plays with her toys, and/or watches Netflix.
But then I noticed something when I walked Elena to school. It was no different than any other day — though we were running a little late. But it struck me just how very quiet she was as we walked to school together.
A few times I asked, “Are you okay?” She nodded.
I had actually a similar version of this conversation yesterday morning, adding “Are you tired?” at one point. I received a nod in response then, too.
I was struck then by the realization that Elena is much like me in the morning. She, too, isn’t really ready for conversation until she is fully awake, and since Elena isn’t a coffee drinker (yet!), I imagine that her “okay, I’m ready to talk now” comes right around the end of her school’s daily morning assembly.
This makes perfect sense to me. Still, I had been concerned both this morning and yesterday by her silence, thinking that something was wrong – that she was hurt or angry.
And as I walked home from school, I thought: Is that what it’s like to interact with me?
When I’m full of silence, not small talk, either in the morning or any time when I’m confronted by a gathering without a specific purpose (oh, how hard it is for me to talk without a specific purpose!)… do people wonder what’s wrong with me?
Maybe they think I’m upset or angry.
Maybe they think I’m tired.
Maybe they think I don’t like them.
Maybe they think I don’t want to be there.
They might be right about one of these… but most likely, it’s just me, trying to sort out my thoughts, trying to fit in, trying to figure out what to say and when to say it.
Isn’t it interesting how our children reflect us? I see Kiersten’s terrible trouble waking in the morning, and I nod. I see her sometimes struggle to say the right thing at the right time, and I nod. I watch Elena slowly come to life in the morning, and I nod. I see her snuggle and enjoy the comforts of home, and I nod.
I think it’s also interesting how our children can help us understand ourselves better. Because once they’re on the outside, reflecting some personalities and characteristics that we might not have even realized we had, we see them better, and we get it. A light bulb turns on. “Oh yes… I’m that way too. I see it now.”
How do your children reflect you? Do they have any characteristics that you didn’t fully realize you had until you saw it in them?