I lay in bed, it is still early. The sun has yet to grace my world with its golden light. I just want to go back to sleep. I pull the covers up to my ears and close my eyes again, burying my face under my pillow. “Mom-ma…Mo-om” comes from down the hall in a voice so small and sweet that a part of me has to smile. Yet there is still a part of me that wants to continue hiding from the day. “Mom-Meee!” with that final call I force myself out from under the warmth of the bed and in to the cold of the morning.

Stumbling down the hall to the bathroom, my eyes aren’t open yet. Switching on the light my eyes close tighter, still fighting for the peace of sleep. I look in the mirror at my reflection. Who is this person? I look so old and tired. All of the freshness and youth is gone from me. It seems as if just yesterday I was a child. Now the years are passing so quickly that my own reflection is a stranger to me. Every morning I face the same dilemma and every morning I convince myself that I will change things, change my lifestyle so the years won’t catch up to me so quickly. And every evening I reflect on the day with disappointment in myself for yet again changing nothing.

There was a time in my life when I was confident in myself. I never considered myself to be conceited, but at one point I felt pretty. That is gone from me too. I am not yet thirty and still I feel as if the best of me is in the past. Certainly I haven’t peaked so early in life, and with so little to show for it. I like to think that the best of me is yet to be revealed, and at the same time that optimism feels naïve, even stupid. I bet everyone feels this way at some point. I bet everyone has a moment in life when they too must face the reality of their own reflection, the reality of who they have become.

As a child everything seemed so magical and mysterious. It is somewhat of a cruel irony when you grow up and realize that the only magic and mystery in the world is held in the question of how people could ever feel that way in this world to begin with. Adults have seen too much, they know too much and that amazement and wonder in the world can never be recaptured once it is lost. As an adult the only wonder is how people can be so cruel and so selfish to others and sometimes even to themselves.

So I head out of the bathroom with the promise in my heart to change my life today. In to the kids’ room where my baby Ayden is standing in his crib, greeting me with his smile and dimples. My two older sons are fighting off the morning just as I was only moments ago. Forcing an energetic and happy tone I try to rouse my eldest son Anthony to get him ready for school. He is wise for his age and doesn’t buy my false energy. “Don’t you want to go back to bed?” he asks in a weary tone. “I don’t want to go to school, school is stupid.” I reply with, “School is not stupid, it is very important, and you have to go- so let’s go!” He grumbles but he is getting up, so I grab the baby and head out to start breakfast and coffee.

            On my way back down the hall in the darkness of the early morning I wonder to myself if I have just lied to my son. School is important, right? I mean, I did well in school, I paid attention and cared deeply about my performance and my grades, and what did it do for me? I am now an unemployed twenty-six year old mother of three with no degree and a less than intriguing resume. My performance in school has had absolutely no effect on the outcome of my life. My choices and mistakes, or moments of weakness over shadowed all of the hard work and effort I had put in to my future through my focus in school. There certainly hasn’t been anyone in my life that has cared or even asked about my performance in third grade. But I suppose that is what a good mother would say anyhow, even if she didn’t fully believe it herself. So I convince myself that it was the right thing and continue to the kitchen.

            Cold cereal, oatmeal, or frozen waffles?  I am not so wonderful of a mother that I can bring myself to cook a hot breakfast every morning. In fact more often than not, breakfast is simple and quick. I convince myself that I make up for the laziness later in the day with a nutritional dinner. After all, I do offer orange juice with breakfast for vitamin C, and they aren’t going hungry. Regardless, I won’t be chosen as mother of the year anytime soon but the kids don’t seem to mind. I decide to make waffles this morning. I put them in the toaster and pull frozen, fully cooked sausage patties from the freezer to throw in the microwave. Once everything is ‘cooking’ I grab the baby a sippy cup, fill it with milk and put him in his high chair. Time for coffee! I don’t know what I would do without my liquid energy in the morning.

            Just as the coffee begins dripping into the empty pot and the smell of freshly brewed coffee fills my nostrils, my middle boy Ashten comes up behind me and hugs my legs. “Good morning sunshine” I say looking down at him. He just grunts and twists his body in aggravation. He acts just like I do when I wake up.

I get all three of the plates ready, cutting the waffles in to bite size pieces for both the baby and Ashten. With everyone seated and eating I treat myself to a nice hot cup of coffee. I also enjoy a morning cigarette on the back porch.

I have been thinking about quitting smoking for awhile now, sometimes I even talk about it too. I have tried twice, but no success yet. I guess it’s just another thing that I can reflect upon and be disappointed in myself for. I came to the conclusion not too long ago that I am an expert in almost achieving things. I don’t know if I lose motivation or if my timing is off. I have really great ideas…and once in awhile I try to follow them through, but they have never really panned out. Oh well. Despite all the negativity, I am largely satisfied with my life. I like to say that I’m rich in all the ways that matter. My children are beautiful, healthy, and happy. I am lucky enough to be married to someone that truly loves and cares about me. Michael understands me and knows me better than I know myself sometimes. He is even the father of all three of my children. Not that I want a medal or anything, but it’s not as common as one would think in this day and age.

The world is crazy these days. All signs point to “the end of days”, but no one really seems to notice, or at least we don’t talk about it. Who knows if that’s true anyway? Furthermore, even if we could prove it to be true, what would we do after that? To discover the truth in this instance wouldn’t solve much. If the book of Revelations, the prophecies, and the predictions are true to this life, and all these occurrences are happening just as predicted in these books and records, isn’t it guaranteed to finish the way it’s predicted as well? Obviously if this were true, there would be nothing we could do to change or prevent anything. Perhaps this is a solid case of what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

Life is full of more questions than I could possibly ponder on this cold January morning. So for now I’ll focus on getting Anthony ready for school. I hurry him from the dining room table to the bathroom to brush his teeth and ‘freshen up’ for school. As he stands I notice the seat cover on my dining room chair. The cream colored vinyl has a dirty gray tint and there are rips covering most of the cushion on the seat. The fuzzy underside of the fabric is exposed and has been stained by spills. I quickly push the chair back under the table so I don’t have to think about them anymore. I have vowed to buy fabric as soon as I can afford it, to recover the chairs. Let us just hope that I actually follow through with that thought.

“Come on babe, it’s time to go!” I shout to Anthony from the dining room as I slip my coat and shoes on. “Give hugs and kisses!” I walk from the dining room in to the living room to look out the front door and check to see if the car needs snow or ice cleaned off of it. I always hope that the windows aren’t fogged up from the cold, because our car doesn’t have heat right now, which obviously reduces the effectiveness of defrost. This morning I was lucky and just had to brush off a light layer of snow.

As we get in the car I make sure to turn the radio all the way down. Anthony informed me earlier this school year that he prefers for the drive to school to be quiet. So I leave it off for him. We drive the three blocks to school, which he walks home everyday but refuses to walk to. It would make more sense for him to walk to school as well, but Michael and I decided that if he doesn’t want to walk by himself to school yet we should just take him and enjoy that fact that he hasn’t yet outgrown being seen in public with us. As we pull up to the doors of the school I say, “I love you baby, now get outta my car.” He always laughs when I say that. I was joking one morning and said that for the first time, after that it just became a ritual, our inside joke. On mornings that I would forget to say it he would remind me. “Love you too” he replies while he gets out.

After seeing him off I drive the three blocks home in the snow, and prepare for the rest of my day. I like the house that we live in now. It has a lot of potential. We have moved a lot over the years, some houses were good, some were bad. We usually only move because of financial problems, we never have any money. Some of this is due to bad luck, some to bad choices. But I’ve always done my best to make things work, and I try to learn from my mistakes.

It really irritates me that I make stupid choices, I hate to be wrong. I have an obsession with not becoming a victim of myself or anyone else. I think that is why I am so hard on myself about not having achieved more at this point in my life. It was said when I had Anthony the summer before my senior year that I had ruined my life, and a lot of my motivation to succeed is drawn from the yearning to prove that statement to be false. I refuse to believe that something as wonderful as having Anthony and the other boys is anything but a blessing in my life. I realize things may have worked out differently for me if I had waited until I was older to be a mom, but I was born to be a mother anyway, so when doesn’t make a difference in the big picture.