I have awakened in the wee hours of the morning to many sounds: dogs barfing, children barfing, husband snoring, babies crying, cellphones ringing, and the thunk of a 3-year old falling out of his big-boy bed. This morning I woke up to a very distinctive sound, the unmistakable electric hum of a Jedi knight engaging his light saber.
I open my eyes to a barefoot Jedi in a Power Rangers cape wearing Tyrannosaurus Rex pajamas. It’s 5:30 in the morning, and I’ve got a 3-foot, neon-blue light saber in my face. As I am rethinking my son’s birthday present, the Jedi speaks, “I want my breakfast.”
“How do you ask?”
“I want my breakfast, now.”
“That is not how you ask. Ask nicely.”
“I want my breakfast now, please.”
“Get that light saber out of my face.”
“Get that light saber out of my face, NOW, please.”
As I search for my glasses and trip over the dog, I realize I am tired. How many mornings since my first child was born, I wonder, have I woken up and thought, you know, I just want to go back to bed?
I have two basic dreams of parenthood. One is that I get to go back to bed. The second is raising well-rounded, happy children who become functioning members of society and take good care of me in my dotage. To get us to this ending, I have made many overt and covert efforts. One is to place inspirational quotes in strategic locations throughout the house.
In the dining room is a quote from St. Luke’s gospel. In 6-inch decal letters I bought on the Internet it reads: “To those who much is given, much is expected in return.” Once my husband finally noticed, St. Luke only inspired him to say, “How much did you pay for that, because I think I could have addressed it with a Sharpie marker.”
Consistent with my quote-happy lifestyle and Notre Dame alumnae status, above the back door we exit every morning, I hung a Notre Dame banner that my husband, the anti-Notre Dame fan concedes is not only worth the money but cannot be replicated with a Sharpie marker. “Play Like a Champion Today.”
He’s okay with the “Play Like a Champion” sign because he believes in it. We both do. And we hope that by our own example, our children will also come to believe that every day is a gift to be opened with joy, energy and the enthusiasm to believe you can change the world, or, at the very least, win the National Championship.
The only rub is that in all honesty, I often wonder how many Notre Dame athletes exit the tunnel at Notre Dame stadium, smack the “Play like a Champion” sign and think, “You know, all I really want to do is go back to bed.”
Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.