In The Morning

posted in: Scrumplet, Writing 81 comments

Small, sticky, slightly salty hands assault my senses, followed quickly by his distinctive good morning yelp. It’s usually still dark so I can vaguely make out his small figure next to me, sitting up, wide awake – my opposite.

He senses that I’m awake and snuggles close, wanting his morning feed. I stroke his head, soft hair smelling like sweat and milk. When he finishes, he rolls over onto his belly and in one smooth movement, pushes up to sit. He’s looking for my phone, the familiar light of it starts his day.

He starts crawling over to the edge of the bed, phone in hand. I can’t see his face, but I know his expression. Cheeky, small smile and eyes full of mischief. I move, feeling like an elephant, and grab the phone before it leaves his hand. Too late.


I heave his familiar weight onto my left arm, his right hand pinching my flesh, and lower him into the crib he left in the middle of the night.

Piercing screams hit my ears, really waking me up. His protests cut short when I hand him a book, some toys. I take my 3-minute shower and get dressed. He is ‘talking’, lips forming around the easy p’s and d’s. I can just see his arms, still chubby with the classic baby rolls, chucking things out of the crib.

He’s calling me now, a baby voice indistinguishable to others, unique to my ears. I go. His arms are outstretched as soon as he hears my footsteps, little legs perfectly stable as he stands. His big smile shows 8 teeth (eight!), his eyes crinkle upward slightly. He looks nothing like me, and everything like me.

It’s difficult to change him now, he doesn’t stop moving. Sitting up, he suddenly lunges forward, hands going for the current object of desire – my glasses one day, a bottle of moisturizer the next. I struggle to slip the romper over his ever-growing head, his busy arms and legs protesting the whole time.


He expertly picks up a small square of french toast with his thumb and finger, and eats it quickly, then promptly grabs a fistful of his breakfast. He shoves it all into his mouth, ignoring my protests, then spits half of them out. He eats like a squirrel, softening the food, one cheek bulging, and slowly swallows it bit by bit.

His head turns quickly as he hears his older brother stirring in his room. He looks at me, and points a chubby and still impossibly tiny finger towards his brother’s room.

There is no question who the boss is around here, in the morning.

11 month old baby

This post is a writing exercise from Kate Hopper‘s book, Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers, to sketch a character in detail. I highly recommend it for all writing mothers. 

What are your mornings like?

My weekly article at Everyday Family this week is about play dates – for moms AND kids. Would love a read and/ or share, thank you and see you there!

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • April 15, 2013 Maureen

    So beautifully written, Alison and he’s so dang cute I could just squeeze him lol.
    Maureen recently wrote…Finding My JoyMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Maureen. He gets squeezed – a lot. 🙂

  • April 15, 2013 Leighann

    This is fantastic Alison. So descriptive and full of detail. I love it. I can see myself there!!
    Leighann recently wrote…Dearest Car ThiefMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Leighann!

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Leighann,it’s a great writing exercise!

  • April 15, 2013 sarah

    so sweet. I can so relate to this too. It’s the hands. Those pudgy hands. Those hands are an image I’ll still be able to recall decades from now. I like how your morning sounds Alison 🙂
    sarah recently wrote…Dear Baby Number FiveMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      I love their little hands, truly.

  • April 15, 2013 Alexandra

    Oh, this is why I love this book. I have it sitting next to where I type every day. Because it’s become essential to me like that.

    This was so beautiful, A.
    Alexandra recently wrote…Soap Box TimeMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Oh, me too!!
      Thank you.

  • April 15, 2013 Kate Hopper

    Dear Alison, this is so lovely. You perfectly capture his baby-ness even as he is growing beyond that stage. I especially love his chubby finger pointing for his brother. Just wonderful! I’m so pleased that you’re liking the book!

    And you, too, Alexandra!! Thank you!
    Kate Hopper recently wrote…Comment on it’s good for everyone by KateMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Kate, thank you for your wonderful book, I adore it! And thank you for stopping by, I truly appreciate it.

  • April 15, 2013 Olga

    I think little brothers and sisters certainly master being “the boss”. My little one behaves in exactly the same way and somehow we all let him. Because he is so cute -;)
    Olga recently wrote…A Few Clicks Away From StupidMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      He sure gets away with a lot because he’s cute 🙂

  • April 15, 2013 Melissa

    Very beautifully written. I think it’s wonderful for mothers to study their children as characters.
    Melissa recently wrote…36 WeeksMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, it was a fun writing exercise.

  • April 15, 2013 Blond Duck

    My ovaries are aching.
    Blond Duck recently wrote…SwimMy Profile

  • April 15, 2013 Kelly

    He is so cute! Very well written. My morning started with a baby at 4am!
    Kelly recently wrote…Get to Work!: Career (and Blogging) Counseling Series, Part IIMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Ack, that’s far too early!

  • April 15, 2013 Tamara

    My mornings start with the baby waking up and me always, always two hours off in guessing what time it is! It’s almost a gift how wrong I am! Morning nursing, a diaper change, and then waffles and yogurt. And of course, I sneak in peeks at the weather app, twitter, facebook and email while brushing my teeth!

    Tamara recently wrote…Take It Easy.My Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Sounds very similar to my morning! Though I don’t get to my computer until the oldest is at school, and the baby takes his first nap (I don’t do social media on my phone).

  • April 15, 2013 Michelle

    What a beautiful description and he is so adorable!! My mornings sound nothing like this…they are more about kids rushing to get out the door for school…and “mom, wake up and can you make me breakfast…I’m late” This morning though, all is quiet…everyone is still sleeping…spring break!!
    Michelle recently wrote…How to Love and Live with Your Disorganized Partner {Guest Post}My Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      I’m pretty sure in a couple of years, my mornings will be more like yours when both kids go to school 🙂

  • April 15, 2013 tracy

    Oh hon – you took me there. Beautiful. xo
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    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you. xoxoxo

  • April 15, 2013 Natalie

    Awww I love this post…I could totally see your morning…since you did such a great job describing it!
    Natalie recently wrote…A Thirty-One Review & GiveawayMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, my friend!

  • April 15, 2013 Chris Carter

    That was simply beautiful Allison. I was right in those moments with you. 🙂

  • April 15, 2013 Jessica

    Perfectly written, makes me wish for those baby days back. And thank you for the book suggestion.

  • April 15, 2013 Christine

    Love this and so beautiful.Those pudgy, sticky hands rule our house in the morning too. Usually our little boss marches into our room to announce that he has a poopy butt. Makes for a great wake-up call 🙂
    Christine recently wrote…What would you tell your parents?My Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Hah! Too funny.

  • April 15, 2013 Dana

    I don’t think I could write a post about our mornings and have it turn out like yours, Alison. Mine would involve more exclamation marks, a few under the breath expletives, and a steaming cup of coffee (and no shower). I’ll have to check out Kate’s book – thanks!
    Dana recently wrote…When Your Child is Confronted with BigotryMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Oh, there are some expletives whispered some mornings 🙂
      I know you’ll enjoy Kate’s book!

  • April 16, 2013 thedoseofreality

    He is adorable! Love it! 🙂
    thedoseofreality recently wrote…Friendship Is STILL Not TaxingMy Profile

  • April 16, 2013 Kimberly

    HAHAH….so can relate. They are the dictators.
    Love your writing as always.
    Kimberly recently wrote…April Showers Bring Nothing But Dirty Shoes Across My Clean FloorsMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      They are. Darn kids.
      Thank you.

  • April 16, 2013 ilene

    What a beautiful slice of life post! And what a great window into your morning!
    ilene recently wrote…Facing Fears and Finding FreedomMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Ilene!

  • April 16, 2013 Jennifer

    I love this. I can picture it all perfectly. Great job.
    Jennifer recently wrote…The Road to a Diagnosis {Dyslexia and Irlen Syndrome}My Profile

  • April 16, 2013 Tess

    This is the second post in this style that ive seen today. I really like this approach!
    Tess recently wrote…Are You Throwing Away Your Coffee Grounds?My Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Tess, it was a great writing exercise.

  • April 16, 2013 Crystal

    This is a lovely post, Alison! So vivid – like a beautiful story. 🙂
    Crystal recently wrote…My Favorite Pins of the Week: Hats of HorrorMy Profile

  • Far less filled with baby-ness and soft hands, a bit more shrill shrieks and fairy dust (they’ve gotten a Peter Pan dvd…)
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…I’m not very good with complimentsMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      We get our fair share of shrieks here too 🙂

  • April 16, 2013 Lady Jennie

    Looooooove this. So full of imagery and it makes me want to have more babies! 🙂

    (I’ll resist, but still).

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Then my job here is done! 🙂

  • April 16, 2013 Katie

    Your little boy is adorable! This piece was soo vivid I can picture every moment you described.
    Katie recently wrote…Over the WeekendMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Katie.

  • April 16, 2013 Leslie

    Scrumplet is just too cute! It sounds like he definitely knows what he wants and goes for it. Your description of changing him was too funny, it reminded me of the internet meme that compares changing a small child to changing an octopus (so true, right?). My morning sounds completely boring compared to this…get ready for work before everyone is up, wake the baby to feed her (if she hasn’t already demanded a feeding before I get ready), put her in the swing (I know, I know), and slip out to work before the chaos begins.
    Leslie recently wrote…{Weigh In Wednesday} Week 14My Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      No judging on the swing, we do what we gotta do! What I didn’t add is, once the 3 year old is up, they both get 30 minutes of er, TV, while Mama drinks her tea 🙂

  • April 16, 2013 JDaniel4's Mom

    I love how you wove your words about your start of the day. I felt like I could totally picture it.
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently wrote…3rd Annual Tissue Box ChallengeMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Deirdre!

  • April 16, 2013 vanita

    I can’t tell you how i miss these days. glad i can live them through your superb writing cause lord knows i’m not having any more kids. 😛
    vanita recently wrote…Bounce Rate Defined Series: Increase Blog SpeedMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Heh, thank you, I’m happy to let you live through vicariously through my life.

  • April 16, 2013 Jessica Smock

    So beautiful! And I’m about to order the book. I just looked it up and it sounds fantastic!
    Jessica Smock recently wrote…Rethinking Attachment Parenting: More Confused Than EverMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      I hope you did, it’s really good!

  • April 16, 2013 Julia's Math

    Wow. You are so talented.
    Isn’t it crazy how you can tell your child’s voice from other children? It still impresses me that I can do it!
    Julia’s Math recently wrote…Six On Monday (Again)My Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Oh my, thanks Julia!
      I think it’s definitely a Mama thing, the ability to discern our children through their voices.

  • April 17, 2013 Elle

    I remember the days. Just lovely and what a little cutie pie to boot.

    Love elle
    Elle recently wrote…Help: My Friends And Family Aren’t Supporting My Growth.My Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you so much, Elle!

  • April 17, 2013 Carolyn Y

    Great descriptive writing.
    I love pudgy hands too. Unfortunately, Lauren won’t have them for much longer.
    Carolyn Y recently wrote…Simple LasagneMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      I know, they grow up so fast!

  • April 17, 2013 Marta

    Oh, I love the idea of the exercises. I think I know what to add to my amazon wish list now. Your writing was beautiful and inspiring and I just want to go and write some myself.

    My two and a half year old daughter is always the boss: morning, afternoon and night.
    Marta recently wrote…Boston Tragedy in the Media.My Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Oh, I’m so glad you feel inspired, Marta! I do hope you get the book and really get into it.

  • April 17, 2013 Julia

    Oh my gosh, I love this. I feel like I am right there with you. What a perfect description of your little guy and your morning routine.
    Julia recently wrote…HomeMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Julia!

  • April 17, 2013 Greta

    He sounds like the cutest little stinker to wake up to. 😀
    Greta recently wrote…The Course #iPPPMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      He SO is!

  • April 17, 2013 Jessica

    When you’re that cute, how can you not be the boss?
    Jessica recently wrote…Poleletic Fitness: Stepping Outside My Comfort ZoneMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      That is true!

  • April 19, 2013 Runnermom-jen

    He may be the cutest boss ever!! And, wow, Alison…beautiful writing. I was right there with you.
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…I Am a Runner…My Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Jen!

  • April 21, 2013 adrienne

    Beautiful, Alison! Just beautiful.
    adrienne recently wrote…Lost in TranslationMy Profile

    • April 21, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Adrienne!

  • April 24, 2013 Lauren

    Read the link 🙂 its nice to have a partner in crime and misery. Could not have gone through all without you there to commiserate with! And I do miss miss miss our weekly brekkies and playdates!

    • April 24, 2013 Alison

      I know, I almost want you to quit your job, hah!

  • April 25, 2013 Susanna Leonard Hill

    Lovely! So evocative! And how precious is that scumplet 🙂
    Susanna Leonard Hill recently wrote…Would You Read It Wednesday #85 – A Noise In The Dark (PB)My Profile

    • April 25, 2013 Alison

      Thank you Susanna!

  • April 26, 2013 Aimee

    How cute! Great post; being a mom sounds like a tough job, but your so good at it. 🙂
    xoxo Aimee

    Aimee recently wrote…Beau-ties | BOCONIMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Thanks, Aimee. It’s hard but rewarding. 🙂

  • April 28, 2013 Nicolette Roux

    Love this!

    Thanks for sharing
    Following on from SITS sharefest
    Nicolette Roux recently wrote…Weekly Pinterest Finds – Week 17My Profile

    • April 28, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Nicolette!

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