My days usually begin with willfulness. My alarm rings, or one of my kids (most likely the little one) wakes up, and my body is jolted from slumber before it’s ready. Usually, I grumble. If the alarm is the culprit, I roll over and hit snooze. Sometimes, I do this more than once. If it’s a kid, I roll the other way to look at the video monitor that spends the night under either my or my husband’s pillow. I see a wiggly, waking child, and silently wish and will him to fall back asleep for a few more minutes. Eventually, I grumble myself upright and either start getting ready for the day or go to my awake child.
If you couldn’t tell, I am not a morning person. I haven’t been a morning person since I was 10 years old. My favorite way to wake up in the morning is naturally. Three years ago, I became a mother. Last year, we had baby number 2. I love most things about parenthood. Not waking up naturally when my body is ready is not one of those things. Hence, willfulness.
I don’t for one moment believe that I’m the only person who experiences waking-up willfulness. Most adults I speak with inside and outside my practice have difficulty meeting a new day, if only for a few moments. I like to think that waking-up willfulness is a part of our common humanity, and hitting the snooze button is a way of rebelling against effectively “adulting.” Plus, who likes alarm clocks?
You know who doesn’t experience waking-up willfulness? My one-year-old. Regardless of whether he wakes up on his own or whether I wake him so we can all get to work or school on time, he stands up in his crib with a smile ready to go. He lifts his arms up so I can pick him up out of his crib, he head butts me (which I think is his attempt to go in for a kiss), and he allows me to take him to the next part of his day without fussing. I feed him, and if it’s the weekend, I can sometimes coax him into a post-breakfast nap, and we both get an extra half-hour of sleep before his sister wakes up. Other times, we go straight to diaper changing and getting dressed, and throughout that process, he babbles to me. Not once have I woken him up and had him grumble or lunge back for his crib.
My son’s ability to accept the reality of morning with willingness reminds me to engage my own willingness to radically accept interrupted sleep and to approach the day with curiosity and openness. I am prompted by him to stay present and approach the day regardless of sleepiness and strong urges to crawl back under the covers. I learn daily that I can be sleepy and willing at the same time. And once I turn my mind to willingness, the moment becomes more enjoyable and a little bit easier.
This lesson lasts the day. The next morning, I experience waking-up willfulness all over again. Like I said, I’m not a morning person, and I still don’t like alarm clocks. I can still work on radically accepting a non-natural wake-up. I guess it’s a good thing I live with a one-year-old willingness teacher.
Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu. May all the beings in all the world be well.