It’s hard to believe there was a time when I’d wake up early every morning with my kids. Now my life is drastically different because my four kids are grown, and I have grandkids as well. I don’t have to wake up early anymore, and I generally don’t. I get to work at night — two nights a week as I’m finally semi-retired, one foot of the work world finally. I always wanted to, but it was never an option for me as a single mom with four kids. Waking older kids up for school was more challenging in some ways than small kids who happily woke up and did what you asked me them to do within reason.
Now I’m lucky to wake up before noon, but there was a time I rose and shined at like 6:30 a.m. every morning with three little ones. I remember when I first became a single mom and my older kids were five, three, and two. Megan, my youngest, would not arrive for at least another seven years.
I had to start all over when I left my husband with three kids, $200, and seven suitcases to get out of an abusive situation, which could have gotten much worse than it did. I moved to Newport, Oregon where my mother lived into a tiny apartment. It was comfy because MOm and her friends had lovingly furnished it with beds for the kids and me, a small table and chairs for the kids, and a big one for me. I was relieved in some ways to live so simple then. We had no phone or car, so we woke up early every single morning and went for a long walk, even if it was foggy and cool. I’d get out the umbrella stroller for little Jeremy and off we went, bundled up for the day. Then Stevie started Kindergarten, and we were prepared. We woke up early and walked him to school.
I remember we’d walk to the store and I’d hang groceries on the back of the stroller. I’d only buy enough that I knew I could manage them. Then there was that one day when little Melissa won a cake in the in-store cake-walk and not just any cake. A giant cake with white frosting and colorful sprinkles. When they handed it to her, she could barely hold on to it. It looked half as big as she was, but she was thrilled, and so were the other kids.
“We’re champions!” Stevie had shouted as we left the store and I wondered how we could carry the cake home. I had the kids help me. Each one held on to one side of the bag that contained the precious cake, and it worked out.
We’d also walk to the beach and I’d spend all my time chasing my kids around and one time a sneaker wave almost took all of our shoes. And sometimes walking back up the hill proved difficult. I found out there was a bus, actually a van, that went around town, and there was a stop near Nye Beach. I grew up in San Francisco, so I expected a real bus, but nope. It was this van. And the driver was so nice that he did not even charge me because he saw me struggle with the umbrella stroller and a sleeping two-year-old along with the two other kids.
Sometimes I miss those days with my kids, in fact, more than I care to admit. Though things became challenging when the older ones became teenagers and I had to work all the time once I got back into the workforce about a year and a half later than those times in Newport, Oregon, I still miss those times. The simpler times with the kids. I even miss waking up early sometimes.