In their book, Bless This House: Prayers For Families And Children (which you can find here), 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 newly two-year-old and my almost 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 and his little brother meet 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 sons are enamored with the experience of being alive. Like most kids, they watch carefully everything that’s happening around them. They peek over the window sill so they can watch the squirrels steal tomatoes from our garden and the cat sunbathe on the trash can and the neighbors do yard work. Coulter loves trucks and books and his new toy grill and Jeremiah loves bottles and things that he can push around the house like a walker and he loves to imitate his big brother. They both love to experience new things and to learn new words and they love to be praised.
I’m not sure that either of them understand yet what it means to be thankful but I do know that they are thankful – for food, for mom, for baths, even for sleep – and certainly for the gift of life. I know because they tell us. Not always through words, although Coulter can say “Dank ooooo” and Jeremiah does use his own various exclamations, but through their temperament and excitement and 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 sons’ 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.