Lifting the veil

Here it is. Five in the morning and I am chugging coffee in a desperate attempt to get out from under my drooping eyelids. I just need my four-month old daughter, Stella, to sleep for a few more minutes before I need to be on. Being a parent sometimes feels like being a talk show host. You have to entertain, keep things moving, and deal with the tears while presenting a cheerful attitude. The difference being that there are no commercial breaks, and the house band is a combination of the radiators clanging on and the cat meowing just as we’re about to put Stella down for a nap.

It’s been awhile since I’ve consistently seen the sunrise, a couple of years since a job made it necessary to be awake at this hour. I’ve always liked this time of the day, the veil of night lifting. My consciousness caught between sleep and awake has, somehow, always suited me. Life seems most serene at this hour, full of possibilities. The rituals of my morning have been pretty consistent for years; quietly sipping that first cup of coffee while listening to the news brings me comfort and clarity.

I eventually get to the ritual after a slight detour—a bottle prepared, a diaper change, the cat comforted from a night banished outside the bedroom. I wonder if I’m imprinting this routine on to Stella. Will the smell of coffee and the low, muffled tones of the radio become memories?

So. Even though it is 5 AM, she has slept for nine or ten hours. Which usually means I got about seven hours. I’m rested. But I still need the coffee to help lift the veil, to shorten the distance between sleep and consciousness. When she finally wakes, her eyes open wide and she looks around in silence. Then she sees me and a smile breaks across her face. Confirmation of the possibilities each new day brings. My morning ritual just got sweeter.