Morning Glory

It is breakfast time and, as usual, I am late. Also as usual the cat pungently evacuates while I am making the lunch-box sandwiches. I pad outside into the freezing half light and scour the litter tray with the leaky garden hose and I return, soggy slippered, to the loaf. The second cat emits last night's dinner, poised acrobatically on the rim of the litter tray and the litter tray capsizes, flinging cat, turd and rolling wooden pellets all over the kitchen floor.

The children descend. They squabble over the last slice of white bread and over who should lever the toast up out of the Dualit. The Vicar hurries in. He wants to know what he could thrust down the finger of a rubber glove to make it stiff. I hand him a carrot. The children begin battling over the single unscarred desert spoon. The Vicar wants to know what he could stick down the rest of the Marigold to make it into a fist. I hand him a knot of carrier bags.

A cat leaps onto the breakfast table to sample Rice Krispies and Small Son jumps up screaming from his chair in case the cat starts on him for afters. Daughter screams at Small Son for screaming and the cat makes a terrified exit, upending the litter tray in its wake. The Vicar, flexing the now stiff rubber finger to see if it will suitably express the ecclesiastical message he wants to convey in Sunday's sermon, also exits and I clear up spilt cereal and spilt litter and spilt tears and marshal my small convoy to the front door for school.

Dimly, I remember other breakfasts. Long-ago breakfasts in my bachelor flat with still-hot toast, the morning paper and the Today programme wafting wisdom in the corner. And after breakfast an orderly departure to the station for an orderly day at the office.

In the middle of my rememberings my mother rings. We've spent a clamorous weekend with her and she is pining. 'Breakfasts are the worst,' she laments. 'It's so quiet without the children.'

There's a Truth here that I do not have the energy to acknowledge. But, come supper time, when my twosome are fitting carrot sticks into the wrong (facial) hole, I fancy I detect the faintest echo from the future. Embrace stress and noise and neediness, it urges me, for the sound of Silence, when they are spent, is not always as fulfilling as memory pretends.


  1. Why is it that the quiet aloneness we had was enjoyed more than the qiete aloneness we will have? Maybe because the former was a moment in a busy and social life whereas the latter can last the whole day, even for many days.

  2. You're right. Also, pre-kids you are used to a life on your own terms; during child-rearing you have lots of people dependent on you and a very definite sense of purpose and indispensibility and being at the centre of things, which I guess you miss when the kids don't need you any more and your own parents are gone.

  3. Your message about embracing the noise because the silence won't be as fulfilling rings so true. I think my mum and dad initially enjoyed the calm after my brothers and sister and I grew up but since grandkids arrived, they really do seem to have been injected with a new vitality, which is lovely to see.

  4. A guy rings his mum and says, "hi mum, how are you?"
    "Terrible," she replies. "I haven't eaten in eight days."
    "My god, mum, why not?" the guy asks.
    "I didn't want my mouth to be full when you called..."

  5. You have two children and two cats and breakfasts are chaos. I have one child and one cat and breakfasts are quite serene. Moderation in everything, especially cats.

  6. Oh my word I can quite imagine how much patience you needed not to stick that carrot somewhere else! We definitely need a daily reminder to enjoy the chaos whilst we can, especially at Christmas! I have made you my Day 11 discovery for Christmas bloggers over here:


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