Our first morning at the lake, T. woke at 5:45 a.m. I surfaced from a deep, almost drugged sleep to the sound of her voice:
"Mama, can you fix me lemonade?"
Of course, at 5:45 in the morning, the answer can only be an ungracious "no!" because, while I will do many things for my kids, I will not mix up a pitcher of lemonade at that hour of the morning.
I lay in bed and willed T. to go back to sleep (she did, and didn't wake up again until 9:30), and as I listened to her chatter about this and that, I thought about how many vacation mornings I logged the first eight years of my parenting life watching the sun rise with L., or with baby T. and L. There was a time when vacations and the sight of the dawn melting into first light were synonymous. I can't say I eagerly embraced my morning starting so early, but I did come to appreciate the beauty of it, and those quiet moments with my kids. Still, I envied the parents of the older kids at the reunion, who stayed up later and got out of bed later, and seemed more rested and a little more patient with that particular kind of chaos you get when you pack a bunch of people who haven't seen each other for two years into a beach house for a week-long reunion.
This year the vacation house is by a lake, not the beach, and it's filled with teenagers, who sleep until noon and still get up and fix breakfast of sorts--bowls of fruit loops and cans of diet coke. My kids aren't there yet, but we're edging closer--I can feel it.
I know I thought that would be my lot in life forever--those early vacation mornings, my feet dug into some sandy beach somewhere, fighting sleep and those undercurrents of resentment you can't help but feel as a parent when what you wish you were doing and what your kids want you to be doing don't quite match up. But they didn't. Just as my kids didn't nurse forever, or crawl forever, or delight everyone around them forever with those wide, gummy, baby smiles, my kids didn't wake at dawn forever, either. And I know it doesn't make sense, but every morning we've been here I get up at 9:00 or 9:30 with a sense that I missed something, some vital moment out of the day; that I long for the chance to turn back the clock and find myself on a sand dune again, with T. in my arms, and my little boy scampering around in the gray morning light, telling me about his world.