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I was never a morning person. Instead, I was the kid huddled under her blanket reading until 2 a.m. I was the teenager who pushed curfew and pulled all-nighters before tests. Those habits carried into adulthood.

Then I had a kid.

Sleeping in now means 7:30 a.m., and odds are if I am up past midnight I am squeezing in an extra pump before bedtime.

6 p.m. used to mean the night was still young. Now, it means time is rapidly ticking toward Little Dude’s bedtime.

On the one hand, early bedtimes mean adult time before bed. However, when you’re a working mom, early bedtimes mean you only get a couple good evening hours with your child – and that’s if you’re lucky and there are no errands to run or chores to complete. (Let’s face it, some things just can’t wait.)

On an average night, 6 p.m. sees us walking in the door, Little Dude in tow. If it’s bath night, we get that started ASAP. Otherwise, we play. If it’s been a bad nap day, Little Dude falls asleep on the way home and we lose any sort of interaction before sleep time.

Doesn’t he know Mommy treasures those weeknight hours before bed? Doesn’t he realize he’s robbing me of the reason I eagerly watch the clock and pray traffic isn’t bad?

Likely, he’s just dreaming of his next meal.

Little Dude is constantly forcing me into a new perspective. So every time I feel that crushing weight of Mom Guilt bearing down on me, I remind myself to cherish the mornings.

That’s right, the girl who was never a morning person now lives for weekday mornings.

Weekday mornings begin before the alarm clock, to the tune of strident babbling, accompanied by tiny nails scratching along the mesh sides of the pack and play.

Weekday mornings (any day, really) progress when the babbling reaches fever pitch, at that grey area between “I’m just testing my vocal chords,” and “You better pick me up NOW or things could get ugly because I am not pleased thankyouverymuch.”

Weekday mornings mean leaning over the side of the crib and saying, “Good morning, Little Dude!” And then seeing that smile that rivals the sunshine.

Weekday mornings aren’t all fun and games – we have things to do and places to be. But we sure enjoy getting there together and finding the fun in the routine.

fullsizerender.jpgWe learned through trial and error that Little Dude must get dressed right away on a weekday morning. It just seems to take the stress off knowing at least one of us (the most high maintenance, let’s be real) is ready to go. It’s my job to wash his hands and face and change his diaper and onesie. It seems so mundane, but I cherish this time the most. It’s a small act of nurturing that only he and I share. We talk and laugh, play peek-a-boo with the towel, and look at ourselves in the mirror.

Little Dude enjoys his walker while I prep his milk and my coffee. Take too long with either one and someone ends up in tears. I love seeing where he ends up each day and whether he will work himself out of a jam.

Usually, Daddy does the feeding while I pump. I seem to always be pumping. But at least I get the sound of Little Dude’s laughter as he and Daddy talk and play. Sometimes, on a lazy morning, they’ll just cuddle and watch the news.

When I originally strategized about going back to work, I envisioned leaving the house bright and early and leaving well before rush hour. That doesn’t always happen. Some days it still frustrates me to sit in traffic and watch minutes we could be taking a walk or playing blocks tick away. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d trade in my mornings to buy a little extra time on the flip side. Because I’m the one who gets to build the foundation for the day, regardless of who takes it from there.