motherhood and making a home

when your child wakes up too early.

when your child wakes up too early


“Please, not today”, I would think silently to myself as I would hear wobbly, bare feet on a cold dusty floor trample down the hallway toward the kitchen where I sat at the table, reading or typing or most likely both. As someone who purposefully awakens early just to experience her life alone, just for a moment, that quiet pause dutifully interrupted and drawn to a screeching halt puts a damper on the brightest of mornings.
With an exaggerated sigh, I shut my book and toss the pen carelessly to the side, and repeat the exact phrase from the morning before. And the morning before that, and the morning before that: “Son? Are you supposed to get out of your bed and wander around the house in the mornings?”

Shyly he would always smile, and hang his head in mischief, and take his beloved blue dog’s ear out of his mouth and whisper, “No!

“Then go on back to your room, ok?” I would say in an obviously disappointed tone, at which point the other two would hear that one was awake, which presumes that all should awaken, and thus the day begins and my solitude ends.

It was like living life on repeat; each morning he would enter earlier and earlier, and the more intense and desperate my frustration became. I threatened, I disciplined, I raised my voice. But every morning there he was again, ready to see if this time it would be different.

And one morning, he was right. It would be different. He planned a carefully executed sneak attack, crawling around couches and shielding himself with decorative throw pillows truly believing I would be oblivious to his antics. Standing up and ready to take charge of the situation as I had so many other moments in the past, he posed a different inquiry:

“Mommy? Can I go out on the porch and watch the sunrise? I just want to see what it looks like”.

Speechless, I watched him scurry past me and take his place in the wooden porch rocker as an audience of one, observing in awe as the sky burst into shades of pink , gold, and blue. Fog rolled off of the mountains just over the barn, and the rooster began his daily roll call.

“Wow! That was beautiful!” he said. It suddenly occurred to me that he had unknowingly inched his wake time earlier and earlier to meet with the sun.

As all mornings prior, I began to hear movement inside, so we returned indoors and he sat next to me on the couch as I cleaned fingerprints off of the lens of my oversized glasses with my stretched out nightshirt. As my husband straightened his tie and gave his shoes a final shine before work, August uttered the words that changed my mornings forever:

“Daddy? Do you know why I get up early in the mornings? Because every morning I sneak into the kitchen to check on Mommy. And I see her just sitting there by herself. So I go and sit with her, so she will never have to feel alone”.

Maybe you have a child that wakes up at the crack of dawn. Maybe you are exhausted and overwhelmed. Maybe, just maybe, they are not waking up early to frustrate or anger you. They just want to BE with you.

One day I will be alone. I will be in this house, by myself, drinking my coffee. All that time I strived for quiet will have finally arrived and all I will want to do is turn it off. The sun will still rise over those same mountains, shedding blinding light into a kitchen window that will have once been littered with fingerprints. That book I shut every morning in frustration as an interrupted young mother will still be there, because I will always need the Bible, and should have read it more and taken to heart that the Lord is serious about loving His children.

So, when he wakes up tomorrow, I will say nothing. Because my words are not why he is there. He simply wants to fill a void inside of me of which I was unaware. He wants his mother, for only a few minutes, before her life of unintended distraction begins its day. And to see, once again, what the sunrise looks like.


(the following story is taken from my Lifestyles column, Letters from the Nest, in the November 6th edition of the LaFollette Press, with the original title, What the Sunrise Looks Like.)

31 thoughts on “when your child wakes up too early.

  1. I loved reading this, I.can count on one hand the times a year my daughter doesn’t get up before me. She is always waking up during the night early morning just like this morning she was up at 4, mommy I need you can you come and fix my covers so I do about 30 mins later mommy can you come sleep with me She comes and gets in the bed with me and her daddy. She was premature when she was born and the doctors said its something she will have to grow out waking up all hours of the night. They say the first things she gets used to is being in the Nicu waking up every 2 hrs. I would let her my arms cause I.thought she would have a heart rate drop and die in her sleep. Being a first time parent and going thru this was traumatic I was only 6 mos pregnant with her when she was born only weighing 2lbs. I would change anything I went thru cause it taught me how to be a mother. Me and my sister was just taking about her sleeping this weekend on our way to Disney on Ice. Maci slept all night Sat. night but got up at 6:22 I said please stay covered up and get some more rest ok, not that she had done anything wrong but I was the one tired and wanted sleep. Moral of this post your exactly right Im going to be alone one day and I will long to hear those words in the middle of the night “mommy I need you”, because one day she isn’t. So I know the next time she gets up in will act very much so different. Thank you so much for sharing :”””)

  2. Oh my! You may have just changed mornings in my house with this insight. I also have a sweet little boy who loves to wake way before I’m ready but his usual request, “Mommy will you lay with me a few minutes.” Love this post.

  3. Beautifully written. It reminds me of just yesterday when at a restaurant for lunch Logan came over and gave me a hug. After we chatted for a few minutes about where we were going next he said “Mommy, I came to give you a hug because you looked sad.” Although I was not sad, he thought I was and wanted to make me feel better. I thought it was an extremely sweet gesture and definitely filled my heart with love. <3

  4. I never comment on blogs. Mostly because I never read them, and often forget to write in my own.

    But I came across yours. And cried. And bawled. And read it to my husband. And cried some more. I’m not a mom. But I have been going on a journey these past few years after we moved away from America. The journey of becoming like a child again before the awesomest King of Kings. And one of the things I have seen and experienced over and over and over again is that God always wants to be with me, even when I don’t want to be with him.

    I’m rambling, making no sense, not knowing why I am even writing this comment. But thank you.

    Something about this, your little boy, reminds me of the spirit of Jesus. And the passage I read just this morning in Matthew 18, about needing to become like children. And the poem by Shel Silverstein also from this morning. “How Many, How Much”.

    So, thank you.

    Oh God, be merciful to this dear stranger. Bless her and cause your face to shine upon her. That Your name, Oh God, may be known upon earth, Your saving health among all nations.

  5. This is the most beautiful thing I have ever read. My children are all grown up but I still remember how frustrated it was to have early interruptions. Thoroughly enjoy those little ones while they are still little. They grow up too fast. Especially when you look back several years later.
    Love your posts.

  6. Oh my goodness.
    My son, who is two, wakes up every. single. morning. right as soon as Daddy is getting ready to walk out the door (way before the sun is even thinking of coming up).
    I used to hate it, to be honest. My husband is getting to run away for 10 hours, sometimes more, and I was left laying in bed, crying for more sleep, while trying to convince a little boy that sleep is awesome and that he needs to go lay in his bed.
    It wasn’t until recently, that I had come to the realization that all he wanted was to be with me, and that was thanks to my husband. Our son had been going to the daycare I had worked at for the past five months, and I hadn’t realized what kind of an impact me getting fired would make. I thought I’d have him back in daycare immediately, but here we are, a month later, and he’s still home with me. Not that I mind, there are just days where I feel like pulling my hair out, usually caused by a potty training disaster, or another episode of his favorite monkey.
    About two weeks ago, he started waking up with daddy, and since he’s in our room, it means I’m also up with daddy. I used to get so upset, I would literally cry and beg a two year old for more sleep. Now? Especially after reading this, I don’t mind so much. I’m glad he wants to crawl into bed with me. It makes my heart warm knowing he wants to spend the first hour he’s awake, in bed, with mommie. It truly puts a whole different spin on the whole day.
    Thank you, for posting this. It’s nice to read that I’m not the only one who has children that don’t want their mommies to spend early mornings, alone.
    Chelsea White recently posted…That SAHM VibeMy Profile

  7. I have KNOWN this, but GIRL, you just made it SO MUCH MORE real!! *tears* What a beautiful calling we’ve been given! I curse my selfishness, marvel at mercy, and praise God for His abundant grace and the many do-overs He gives me.

    Love your heart, Friend!

  8. This is the story of my morning so often. I’ve battled being frustrated that I woke up early only to inadvertently wake my kids up early, wanting to read/write/work but just moving up everyone’s wake time instead. Your words have really given such a better perspective. I teared up reading what your son told your husband. So incredible. Thank you for sharing this. Here’s to greeting our kids in the morning with welcoming arms and not disappointed faces.
    Lisa recently posted…Flannel Infinity ScarfMy Profile

  9. […] One such normal day recently went like this: I set my alarm the night before. Actually, I set six alarms in hope that one would take. The next morning, I ignored the first five alarms but manage to roll out of bed thirty minutes before the kids woke up. This gave me the perfect amount of time to locate my pajama pants and my robe, brush my teeth, and then quietly sneak down the hall to the living room. At which point I grabbed a pre-breakfast snack and sat down to prepare for the day. Just when my mind regained the ability to maintain a coherent thought, the inevitable happened. A child wakes up. […]

  10. O my, this brought tears to my eyes. So true. I read the “Satan taking over motherhood” wow did that hit me like a ton of bricks, I could have written that in the same exact words only first I needed to hear it from you, so thankful for our God and his many different ways to speak to us!

  11. I just want to say thank you. For your insight and for sharing it with those of us that are struggling! I have an early riser (he’s 5 and only slept later than 6:30 am a handful of times) i may have complained a bit too much because a friend felt she should send this to me.

  12. Wow! So I just cried like a baby. Really makes you think. I will be sharing this with my daughter who has 2 young ones. I remember when she was young she would come in my room and stare at me and not say a word just stare of course I would wake up and ask what she needed and she would always say nothing just checking on me. I would just sense her staring at me. LOL She apologized a couple of years ago but I didn’t need it, I knew someday I would catch up on all that lost sleep.

  13. Oh to have those days back for just a few days. With one in college and another in high school I miss those days of little feet, warm cuddles, and Little’s ones who still looked at mom & dad as people who knew everything there was to know. My kids are good kids – but not little anymore. We can have conversations – which I appreciate. But I miss the little pajama days. Good for you mom that you are pausing to take those mental photographs of the days of your littles being little.

    1. I wish I could go back to the young days and start over, after reading this blog!! Then I could be a better mom. Not yell at them to go back to sleep because I was so tired!! I would have been and done so differently.

  14. Wow, this is exactly what I needed to read tonight. I feel deep down inside this was sent from God. I have been feeling so down lately wanting it all to be about me because it feels like it’s alway me doing for others, when is every one going to see and do for me??? I have a yr old with Down Syndrome , first off I must say he is truly a blessing . Jeremiah is non- verbal he is delayed in speech so most of the communication is sign language or whining, point, tugging, pulling. Humming grinding teeth….. It can be over whelming at times to were I just want to cry and run….. My husband can wake up through the night or early morning make all kinds of noise and Jeremiah sleeps through it…. I can get up and be as quiet as a mouse and he wakes up right away, some times I feel like he has a radar on me…lol he will wake up in the night calling out mum, of course I never know what he needs or want because of his silence. So yes its frustrating to me I just want to sleep, but here recently I realized he needs me…. what if he could speak….. He would say mum I need you…. what I would do to verbally hear him say this but instead I see it in his eyes, I hear it when he wraps his arms around my neck giving me a huge hug, or when I feel his hand rub my face, that kiss on my cheek…… or those few verbal words that he can say help bub, or mum. When I read this it just gave me a true picture of why my son wakes me up early he wants me to see the Awesome SON I have and he wants me to know that the SON needs his mum before the Sun raises…… What a new meaning to know my son is telling the sun is coming up today let’s enjoy it together. …

  15. Ah, such wisdom! As a young mom I too had those same frustrations with kids waking early when I was trying to have my alone time. There were other frustrations too – toys cluttering the floor, mismatched outfits, jammy fingers all over everything, scissors used on all the wrong things and drawings on walls. I wondered when we would “get passed this stage.”

    And now, here we are with 10, 13 and 16 year old kids and all those frustrations are gone – but gone too are the sounds of little feet padding down the hall in the mornings, the tiny bodies curled up in my lap eager for another story, the squeals of delight over the wonder of a ladybug, and the stubby legs running toward me in happy greeting after returning from a short trip to the grocery store.

    Ther are new joys with our kids and I’m doing my best to treasure each one of them, but I encourage you, enjoy the moments when they are young, for they are fleeting.

  16. Thank you for sharing this. I also have a sweet little boy who enjoys waking up early on my Saturday mornings! Thank you so much for sharing this. 🙂

  17. oh the tears streaming down my face. We’ve been knee deep in a virus for over a week that has had my seven month old sick for the first time. Today I reached my breaking point and was so frustrated by the naps, and how yet again our doctor appointment was poorly scheduled for him to be cranky. We had a beautiful sunrise morning in early October, bundled up in blankets and this was a great reminder of that beautiful moment. Thank you.
    Kristin Miller recently posted…Cold Weather Must Haves: On and Off the Snowy RoadsMy Profile

  18. Thank you and you are so blessed right now for learning this early on. Last night as I sat with my only grandbaby of 4 reading, my son was rambling round his apartment doing laundry, packing her lunch…I had this precious time to do what grandma’s do.
    She loves to hear about when daddy was little, what he did and liked. It pains me a little each time as I recall what my sister or mom related to me of his antics or quips of cuteness. I worked full-time, & was mom & dad, and had the short fuse, and had to get everything done…and now would love to have a do-over. Izy is the brightest most beautiful, funny, silly, playful, thoughtful, inquisitive, energetic, snuggly child.
    I see more of me in my son than I care to admit, a single dad leading the shared parenting lifestyle. God showed me where I went wrong with my son and have been given this beautiful gift of a granddaughter to enjoy. He hears me talking to her and sharing stories, he watches how I take time to hang on her every word. He even tells me how he would never have been allowed to do what she does when he was little. It makes me sad that I was ‘that’ mom. I am praying this makes him a better dad, & I let him know that there are no do-overs…only move forwards. God is truly amazing and He shows us daily in these little lives we have the opportunity to be a part of.
    May He continue to bless you and your family and your ministry.

  19. This post is an awesome eye opener. My little girl is 7 years old and has always gotten up with the sun. I too am guilty of begging for a little more sleep! Since before she was 2 she was always ready to get in her bed, in her room and always by 8 p.m. Her pops has always been early to bed, early to rise. She is so much like him. I started getting up earlier so I could just get my coffee and a little quiet time. Of course, she made it a habit of making sure she was up with me! She is a snuggler and I love it. So even now, at 7 years, I love it when she wakes up to come get in my bed. We watch a little cartoons and spend some wonderful time together. My sons are grown so now this is God’s way of giving me a time to do things differently! Oh how I wish my boys were still small and crawling up in my bed for mommy time…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge