It occurs to me how much I miss on the days when I’m frustrated.

On the days when I hurry them through brushing teeth and climbing bunk bed ladders and demands for just one more sip of water. On evenings when I rush and mutter and long for the solace of bed and laptop and online. On mornings when I rush to find lost shoes, chug down honey nut Cheerios and pack lunches and stuffed bears.

How much does the rush cost me?

We want to be on time, yes. But on time and frayed around the edges, on time and in tears, on time and relieved to be parting ways is no one’s win-win.

The rush is all mine. I can choose to shelter them from it or not.

The clock is all mine. I can choose to dictate from it or not.

The rhythm is all mine. I can choose to dance to it or not.

Because the melody of any day ebbs and flows around a mother’s mood.

And if I can set my mood by the desire to send them off at peace and full of the knowing that they mattered then they will have a gift to unwrap the rest of the day.

Knowing that they mattered to their mother more than her to-dos.

And yes, I hear you saying that there are things we can’t actually be late for. And to-dos must be done sometime or lives will unravel. I agree, I do.

But I am learning to tell the difference between the rush of the doing vs. the gifting of the doing.

I am learning to spot the wonder in the ordinary. Because if it is all a gift to me from the Father who gives good things, why don’t I re-gift it to my kids before we rush out the door?

Time and again I have to reel my fast, wagging, frustrated tongue in and slow down the crazy that’s about to spill out of me. And because we do still need to be on time these are the things I’m trying out in order to get us there with tempers and kind words in tact:

5 steps to survive school mornings

This doesn’t make breakfast any more nutritious than a bowl of cereal or a bagel and cream cheese most mornings. But it does make us all feel filled up in the ways that matter most. Some mornings we still snap and no one brushes their teeth and car doors are slammed. But other mornings – more mornings these days – there is time factored in for slow. Time factored in for connecting before parting.

Hard hugs.

We don’t have big prayers or profound Bible readings – but we have the heart of the thing. The rhythm of secure kids and restrained parents. There is give and take. An episode of Mighty Machines if breakfast is eaten. Time with the hamster if teeth have first been brushed. A half hour of swashbuckling in the yard if they’re dressed in full ready-to-leave-from-the-yard-when-mom-calls clothes.

If I want our kids’ morning routine to work I have to work the hardest at keeping it together. Myself first. My tongue, my temper and my temptation to dish out blame for being late.

So I take a deep breath when I’m lying there listening to Zoe start to wake up, before I can will myself out of bed. I take a deep breath and picture the hand of the carpenter who lived over 2,000 years ago – rough and strong and tender – ready to lead me into the dance. There will be crazy and whining and bed head. There will be the same red cereal bowl and yellow spoon Micah’s used a hundred mornings before.

There will be trails of socks and cries that someone is out of undies. There will be missing library books and someone who insists on wearing his camouflage pants again. There will be a raggedy toy bear and a baby that trails around behind every body, unpacking everything.

But on the very best mornings, oh yes on the best mornings, there will also be dancing at our house.