When Benjamin Franklin rose in the morning, he would wash, address the “Powerful Goodness,” and ask himself, “What good shall I do this day?”
The author P.G. Wodehouse would immediately go to his back porch to exercise, then make his breakfast. While he ate, he would read an adventure or mystery novel.
Other than being successful in their fields, these two men had something in common. Children were not part of their morning routines. If children are part of your morning routine, either Wodehouse’s or Franklin’s routine might sound like heaven, even if Franklin did rise at 5 a.m. every morning.
Although my morning routine is somewhat less predictable, I can safely predict the first two things that happen are letting out the dog and starting the coffee. If I do not do these two things before I am interrupted the results can be catastrophic.
At some point my son wanders through the kitchen on his way to the laundry room to pull a clean shirt out of his clean bin. That’s the bin of clothing he was supposed to put away last night. He then sits at the counter and watches as I put his lunch together.
“What do you want for breakfast?” I ask.
“Can I have waffles?” he replies.
“We don’t have time for waffles on a school day,” I remind him as I did yesterday, and the day before...
Then I pour him a bowl of cereal, or spread some cream cheese on a bagel and hand it across the counter to him.
At some point my daughter enters the kitchen, darting back and forth between the refrigerator and counter putting her breakfast together. I stand back, say a quick good morning, and let her get what she needs. I know better than to interrupt the morning routine of a teenage girl. The results can be more catastrophic than not letting the dog out.
The sound of paper tearing comes from the desk. “What is the cat chewing up now?” I ask.
My son wanders over, and picks up a piece of paper with one edge torn off, looks at it and shrugs. “It’s my homework,” he says with in a matter-of-fact tone. I gave up on explaining that the cat could not chew on his homework if he put it in a folder some time ago. I trust that he will someday figure it out.
Eventually everyone is ready. I give them a hug and tell them to have a good day at “la escuela,” and they head out the door with my wife who will drop them at school.
The routines of Franklin and Wodehouse might sound like heaven in theory, but on those days when I sleep in, and do not get to tell my children to have a good day, I miss the reality of my morning routine. Family life can feel chaotic, especially in the morning before school, but it is what makes my home feel full.
I have been a priest for 16 years. I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010. If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.