Despite the fact that I have a gentle alarm—chimes that begin low and slow and gradually get louder—waking up at 5:15 a.m. is still not something I would describe as pleasant or peaceful.
Nevertheless, every weekday my alarm goes off at this time. I do a quick social media check while lying in bed (a habit I know I need to kick) before rolling my pregnant self out of bed. I brush my teeth while listening to NPR’s Up First, put on my favorite sweater and creep down the stairs as quietly as possible. It’s the dead of winter here in the Midwest, so in the predawn darkness, I rely on my phone to light my path.
I pour a smallish bowl of Cookie Crisp—one I won’t have to share with my three-year-old—while I heat up coconut milk for my coffee. The coffee maker is usually making its final sputters at this point and I pour the liquid life into my mug, swirling it with the milk until it’s the color of almonds.
I switch on the lamp in my living room and settle into my favorite white armchair by the window. This is the spot I’ve always dreamed of having—my writing chair, my reading chair, my watch-my-daughter-play chair—and every time I plunk down in it, it feels a little more like home. I unplug my laptop from its charger, open it to the place where I left off in my writing yesterday and get to work. At this point it’s about 5:30 a.m. and I have a solid hour before I need to get ready for my day job and begin my daughter’s grooming/breakfast/daycare-drop-off shuffle.
For the next hour, all will be calm and quiet and I will drink my coffee while it’s hot. For the next hour, no one will demand that I make them a snack, no emails will chirp as they enter my inbox and no one will stop by my office with a “quick” request. For the next hour, I can do whatever I want.