I hate mornings. And, no, hate is not too strong a word. I fight the same battle every day. The alarm sounds and I start to resurface from my deep sleep like a diver coming up for air, slowly moving through the warm water toward the light. I open my eyes and the conversation/persuasion begins.

Sleepy Me: “Harley got you up last night. You should sleep until at least eight. You know how important getting a full seven hours is to your productivity.”

Motivated Me: “Remember your one simple goal: get out of bed, turn off the alarm and DO NOT GET BACK IN BED. You’ll enjoy a walk with Harley in the cool morning air and then you can get back and tackle all those projects on your desk. Imagine how great you’ll feel!”

Sleepy Me: “Seriously? Just go lie down for another 30 minutes. You can take Harley tonight after dark when the pavement has cooled. He had a big day yesterday and probably wants to rest this morning, too.”

Motivated Me: “You know if you get back in bed, Harley won’t get a walk, you’ll be late starting work and you’ll just feel bad about being lazy. Stay up. You can do this.”

Sleepy Me: “Good choice. You’ll feel better with another 30 minutes.

An hour and a half later:

Motivated Me: “I told you not to lie back down.”

This morning was no different. Kathy, a true morning person, was up and ready to take Helen for a walk at 6:05am. Prying one eye and ear open, I realize what’s happening and my internal struggle begins. Except this time, Motivated Me called in the big guns: Helen and Foxy.

Good morning, Mom. Can we go now?

Helen, like Kathy, is a creature of the morning. She wakes up ready for the excitement and glory of the new day. Don’t get me wrong, Helen wants to be sure Kathy’s out of bed for good before she gives up her warm spot in the bed. But once she’s sure of that, the enthusiasm begins to percolate like Kathy’s hazelnut coffee. She often tries to recruit Harley to participate in her morning revelry, but like mother like son, he enjoys sleeping in and ignores her request with a huff.

Undeterred, she turns to her army of toys. Most were systematically dismembered long ago and all but Vinny (a Jersey thug who says “fa-ghet about it!”) and Halloweenie (a jack-o-lantern loofa dog) have been disemboweled and de-squeaked. Today, she’s chosen Foxy as her lieutenant. Foxy is a delightful toy with a three-by-three checkerboard body—each square has a squeaker, heaven help me—four limbs, a furry head and curiously, no tail. He was decapitated within 48 hours of his arrival in the house, survived a bilateral squeak-ectomy soon after, but has managed to retain all four limbs.

As I’m stirring and trying to ignore that siren song of sleep, I hear nails clicking on the tile and the telltale “squeak-squeak-squeaksqueaksqueakkkkkkk.” Helen and Foxy are making the rounds. I think the next thing I’ll hear is the jangle of Helen’s tags as Kathy gets her dressed in her harness and leash before they head out the door. I’ve missed my window, or so says Sleepy Me, and they’re going to walk without Harley and me. I’m disappointed in myself, but not enough to bolt out of bed and into my dog-walking clothes.

Then, Motivated Me plays the trump card. Helen, with Foxy securely between her teeth, makes one last run at the bed. Unconsciously, I track her location by the sound of her nails on the changing surfaces: hardwood…hardwood…tile…tile…hardwood…silence — BOOM! With one soaring leap, she hits the bed and bounds up to my pillow. Evel Knievel would have been proud. She playfully drops Foxy beside my head. “Come on! We’re going for a WALK! Wanna come!?!” Smile, smile, smile. Pant, pant pant.

With one pounce, she decimates Sleepy Me. How can I stay in bed with all the enthusiasm and sloppy tongue lolling in my face? Even Harley can’t sleep though all that. We got up, dressed and were out the door as a family by 6:15am. Sometimes all the reasoning and negotiation can’t get me out of bed. But a 2-year-old with a sense of wonder is just what I need. Thanks, Helen.


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