The Morning Rush
"You've got to get outside. Now!"
"But my hair isn't even brushed!"
"I don't care. You're going to miss your ride.
They have already honked
"I can't go to school like this!"
"You going to have to walk to school if you
don't get out the door this minute!"
"Get out there, Molly. You're late!"
Why does every morning go like this? I know when
my daughter's carpool will arrive to pick her up
each morning. It's not like friends have decided to
surprise me by dropping by unexpectedly. Then I can
say, "Sorry the house is such a mess" and I expect
them to understand. But when the carpool arrives at
the same time every week day nine months a year, I
start to feel like maybe we should be able to be
ready on time, without madly rushing around yelling
at each other. It is not a pleasant way to start
Think this through with me, will you? The
carpool picks up my daughter up at 8:00. It usually
takes forty-five minutes for us to get dressed,
pack lunch, eat breakfast. "But I will be smart," I
say to myself, "I'll give us an hour, by setting
the alarm for 7:00." I am forgetting about the fact
that it takes me about fifteen minutes after the
alarm goes off to actually roll out of bed. So I am
actually getting up at 7:15. Any type of delay will
therefore put us behind schedule and set off a
"Well, I will just have to jump up as soon as
the alarm rings," a voice inside my head explains.
I know this guy. He's my inner drill sergeant. I
make lots of promises to myself, counting on him to
discipline me into keeping my resolve. When the
time comes, though, I find I hate this guy. He
can't get me up. Each morning he becomes a victim
of "friendly fire". Fifteen minutes later, I get
up. That means if I want to get up at 7:00, I have
to set the alarm for 6:45.
"Noooooo!" screams another voice inside my head.
It is my inner teenager. I know a lot of people get
up much earlier than 6:45 to go to work every day.
I have no right to complain. But long ago, when I
first looked at becoming an adult, I promised never
to be conscious during the "sixes". Not 6:30, not
6:45, not even 6:59. I have broken a lot of vows to
myself: I pay taxes, I make my kid wear shoes, and
I voted for the lesser of two evils. "But I can't,"
my inner teenager tells me, "get up before 7:00."
It would be "selling out."
Then my inner parent educator starts chiding me.
"Are you going to let a teenager run your life?
Teenagers may not like limits, but they need
limits. Hold the line. But help your teenager be
successful. Give him the help he needs to be able
to keep the limits you set." That sounds right,
though I wonder how much to charge myself for this
advice. And will it work when the teenager is
To be successful waking up at 6:45 I am going to
have to get to sleep eight hours before that.
Otherwise, lack of enough sleep will team up with
my inner teenager and present a formidable foe.
That means I have to go to bed at 10:45. No, that
means I have to go to sleep at 10:45. To do that, I
have to start getting ready for bed at 10:15.
I like to have at least an hour of down-time
after putting Molly to bed. It creates the illusion
that I have a life beyond parenting. So if I need
to be done putting Molly to bed at 9:15, then we
need to start her bedtime at 8:30. There's the
problem. Why do we never start her to bed until
around 9:00. Her Mom and I have agreed that 8:30
should be her bedtime.
It begins to dawn on me that this all starts
with dinner. If we eat at 7:30 then we are not done
cleaning up until 8:30. Then there is no time to
play before Molly's bedtime. She always protests
this, and we always understand and oblige her a
deferment on bedtime.
"But," I finally deduce, "if we start dinner at
6:30, then there will be playtime after dinner, and
Molly will be ready for bedtime at 8:30. Then I can
get to bed on time and be able to wake up at 6:45
and not have to rush in the morning."
I am delighted with myself for having solved the
problem. "It all depends on getting dinner ready by
6:30," I remind myself, memorizing this important
and hard earned insight.
Then I wonder, "How on earth am I going to get
dinner ready by 6:30?"
© 2008 Tim
Other Father Issues,
* * *
Parents are the bones on which children sharpen
their teeth. - Peter Ustinov
Hartnett, MFT is father to Molly at their home in
Santa Cruz, CA. Tim also works part time as a
writer, psychotherapist and men's group leader. If
you have any feedback, or would like to receive the
monthly column, "Daddyman Speaks" by Tim Hartnett
regularly via email, (free and confidential) send
your name and email address to E-Mail
Tim Hartnett, 911 Center St. Suite "C", Santa Cruz,
CA 95060, 831.464.2922 voice & fax.
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