I am not exaggerating when I say that Morning Prayers literally saved my marriage. My husband and I have always had very different experiences of the wee hours of the morning. I pop out of bed, not exactly chipper but aware and accepting that the sooner I get my head on straight, the easier the day will be. My husband… not so much. In the almost 8 years of our marriage, this has not really bothered me. He does his thing, hitting snooze 8 zillion times, usually ending up late to his first appointment, getting away with it because he’s charming and bikes quickly. I don’t feel the need to manage his morning — who wants that responsibility?! There were times, pre-parenting, when I’d leave the house after having been up for over an hour and he’d still be in bed, happily pressing that snooze button every 9 minutes.
Enter, Olive. A little ball of joy and need that requires so much in the morning that it takes 2 grown persons with post-graduate education every single ounce of brain power and organization to get her fed, clothed, and on her way to have her daily adventures. She is not unique — anyone in the history of the world who has had a baby knows what this is like.
She wakes up, LONG before Joel and I desire to be up, and expresses her need to be fed with babbling and flailing limbs. I crawl out of bed and take her to the chair at the foot of the bed to breastfeed her. While there, I consider the very short period of time we have to do everything that needs to be done. I acknowledge my inability to do it all myself (this may seem very basic to you but seriously this is always a process for me). Therefore, my husband needs to get up.
It is not a good look to be a nag. I hate it so much I will avoid whole relationships with people if that seems like the dynamic they need to stay friends with me. But unfortunately what followed was months of me nagging my husband to get up and get the process of Operation Olive Out the Door going. The rage within me at the need to do this was epic. The way I spoke to him was regrettable. And the results? Not cute.
Finally one Sunday the Vicar gave a sermon about putting first the Kingdom and its righteousness and I decided to take it really literally. We instituted Morning Prayer. I get up, feed the baby, and Joel stays in bed but gets the Common Book of Prayer and goes through the Morning Office with me. That way our first interactions with each other are prayerful ones. It sets the tone for the rest of our morning, which is still a hurried juggling act, but somehow a bearable one.
It’s counter-intuitive to think that adding something would help that Morning Crunch, but it did. It helps me give up control about how the morning, and therefore the rest of the day, is going to go. It connects us on a deeper level, rather than a bickering match about whose way of doing things in the morning is going to win out. And the ritual of it, saying the same words every morning (the Psalm changes, but the form around it stays static) is working its way into my soul, grooving out patterns for a river to flow through, one day, when I am open enough to allow it to. I feel that I am getting there — Morning Prayer feels less and less rote and more and more alive each day.