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It starts off as any day. The alarm rings at 6:03 a.m. and I mentally go through a quick checklist and confirm that "snooze" is not an option, mostly because it's the second week of school and the kids are counting on me to get them there on time. Beyond that, I'm really ready to get moving; stiff from a good night's sleep in a warm bed and cool home, and ready to face the day. Although the sky is still dark, I can hear the morning birds chirping, and I know soon my own morning bird - my six year old - will begin his morning song, my absolute favorite sound of my day. My feet hit the floor while I say an audible prayer of thanks for another glorious summer day. Just yesterday I heard that a dear friend's father lost his battle with lung cancer, so my thanks are extended for the life of my own father who continues his battle surviving cancer and Parkinson's disease.
Stumbling to the kitchen, my mind wanders through the day's agenda. Much to do, but my flexible work at home schedule gives me freedom also to relax and enjoy today without rushing around much. After a moment to mentally prepare, the day begins. My morning bird and his older "Bubba" awake. The rush of the day begins. Soon, the clanging utensils are hard at work on the scrambled eggs and turkey sausage. My morning bird is cutting his peach, while his brother cocoons in a blanket, hoping I won't see him and prod him along too quickly. My husband drags himself out of bed and heads straight for the shower. I audibly say a prayer, thankful half our family are good risers, and ask for patience to accept those who aren't like me! Mornings are sometimes loud, sometimes too boisterous, and sometimes too chaotic; and yet this school season is just beginning, so we have many days ahead to perfect our routine. As I shoo them off to their respective schools and work, I realize the conflict in my own mind. I should miss them during the day while we are apart - as I send them off with a "bye, I'll miss you." But the new routine of peace in the house for eight hours is a welcome relief to ruckus of kid-filled days of summer.
The house is quiet now, but habit takes me out the front door, with the dog on a leash and the iPod cranking Casting Crowns in my ears. This isn't a leisurely walk, but not a medicinal walk either. This is a walk with a mission -- an insulated cup with crushed ice Polar Pop Coke (no substitutions, please), my morning fix. My iPod keeps me meditating in a world of my own, not noticing much around me except sapphire blue skies with fluffy white clouds moving slowly and thick, green leafy tree canopies. And, the occasional glances of those I pass by as my off-key singing is obviously coming across much louder than I thought.
Once home the technology demands set in and the 34 emails that accumulated overnight must be answered. First I address the personal stuff. God gave me one sister, but I've adopted three others along the way. Today's e-mails include messages from each of them, and their news is more important than the work or chores of the day. My work-from-home curse is in full swing today. There's much to do, but I let the distractions of laundry, dirty dishes and ring around my tub take me in a different direction.
Distractions set aside, I'm ready to dig in, address those other e-mails and get that major project done for my boss. I set a small bowl of pretzels on the table next to the computer as motivation to stay engaged, a good balance to my caffeine racing through my veins and sending me into overdrive. But, my thoughts are interrupted by a phone call from a fellow mom, thankful that the school year has started and eager to reconnect over lunch. Sure, I'm game, anything to keep me from the tasks of today. Meeting a short time later, I notice the restaurant is full early lunchers, smiling women without kids hanging from their appendages. Oh, the beauty of school days! I remember to say an audible prayer for the kids in Tibet who have terrible school surroundings and few children's books to read, so unlike my own kids both enjoying their luxurious school surroundings and nutritious hot school lunch right now.
Lingering longer than normal catching up on the events of summer and our grand plans for fall, we both know we'll bite off more than we can chew professionally and personally and complain about it all at our next lunch just after Halloween. It's our cycle and we know it well. It's comfortable to us. Before leaving, I realize that I need that triple chocolate meltdown dessert to counterbalance the caffeine from the Polar Pop Coke, salt from the pretzels, and vitamins from my healthy lunch salad. I leave saying an audible thanks to God for great friends to share my life, my joys, and my struggles with - and, although trivial in the grand scheme of this life or the one after- for chocolate.
Work continues after lunch, productive work - work that's going to make my boss say "I'm glad its late; it's your best work yet! You go girl" (or perhaps that's just what I'm hoping he'll say). Just as I complete that prideful thought, my morning bird hops off his bus. Suddenly I realize the anticipation of seeing him overwhelms me. Even though it's been peaceful and quiet, I've missed all the commotion my family creates. I can sense his day was good as he greets me with a kindergarten hug and quickly tells a tale of a recess scuffle. Shortly after Bubba is at the door with a high-five and thumb's up; as a 7th grader, hugs are reserved for bedtime, or as a means of bribery to offset impending punishment. We spend the late afternoon on raisin snacks, homework, math fact flash cards and unfortunately an episode of that little yellow spongy guy (I can't bear to even write his name).
Daddy arrives home and we all reconnect after a long day apart. The smell of baby back pork ribs roasting in the oven makes the crew hungry earlier than I had expected. Sensing impending chores, they all escape to the yard for football and I finish the BBQ. I love watching them throwing the football, trying for the perfect spiral and comparing each throw to that of various NFL quarterbacks. I say an audible prayer, thankful that my boys have a dad in their home, active in their life; I know many don't.
After our bellies are stuffed and dinner is cleaned up, we pack up our tennis gear and head to the local college. No one is an expert, but we enjoy the action. Soon the boys are off on the football field running suicide drills with the players, and trying to finagle free tickets for the upcoming game while my husband and I play a rousing set.
Nighttime comes so quickly. Another contradiction comes with it. Do I wish we could cram more into this day, or am I ready to put this one to bed, satisfied with the results and ready to begin anew tomorrow?. It was nothing extraordinary; nothing tragic. Just life, my life, our life. But, did 14 hours really go by already? Bathtime, story time, snack time, and now it's time for the morning bird to sing his good night song. A hug, a kiss, his favorite music and I kiss him goodnight.
I take comfort in knowing that tomorrow will look very similar. The rhythm and beauty of each and every "today" repeating itself allows me to continually build precious memories with those whom I hold dearest; a beautiful, mental scrapbook of the most important days of my life. Forgetting the past and looking forward to the future, today is what really matters. Whether terribly flawed or nearly perfect, whether filled with tragedy or filled with laughter, whether ordinary or extraordinary, today is my most important day. And ask me tomorrow and the answer will be the same: today is my most important day. And, God willing, my next most important day will start in less than 10 hours with a loud blare at 6:03 a.m., followed by the sweetest morning song by my morning bird, and Bubba and Daddy shortly thereafter will stumble down the stairs, cocooning in a blanket and plodding to the shower with eyes shut.