May is an eventful month for me. It’s happenings include my stepfather’s birthday, my brother’s birthday, my annual mammogram, Mother’s Day and my countdown to the end of the school year. This year’s countdown is especially thrilling because it marks the end of my daughter’s elementary school years. My youngest child, my baby, is going to middle school in the fall.

I am very proud of her accomplishments these last couple of years. She’s had really great grades, has had a few perfect scores on our state’s standardized tests, is a well-behaved student and has become an awesome saxophone player. Most importantly though, I am impressed by her growing maturity. But with that maturity, and the pre-teen years, comes an upsurge of hormones, causing mood swings and a need to sleep even later. (She has never been a morning person.) So after a fifth grade year of having to get her to school at 7:30 every morning for band practice and safety patrol duty, she and I are both looking forward to 6th grade. She’ll be able to sleep in because her new school doesn’t start until 9:30. And the icing on the cake is that she and her brother will be in the same school for one heavenly year.

I will also benefit greatly by the extra sleeping time because currently, I am a slave to my daughter in the morning. She is a bear if woken up the “wrong” way. And I have fallen in to some sort of unhealthy codependency trap where I have to follow the same routine with her every morning or else I will have to face the bear. Which of course is a nice way of calling her the other b word. You know, a female dog. Yes, I said it. Those of you with pre-pubescent daughters know you’ve called yours the same. If not out loud, then at least in your heads. And for that small minority of moms whose daughters’ moods do not fluctuate like the tides in the Bay of Fundy, more power to you and to her. And please email me your secret, whether it’s a daily dose of Benadryl for her or Valium for you.

It’s not that I wish my daughter would grow up faster and out of this era of wildly shifting hormones. It’s just that I don’t want any more beary mornings. And I take complete responsibility for the unhealthy morning routine. Earlier in the year I was more forceful, a stronger parent, but I’ve been worn down by time and by a desire to have peaceful mornings. I can’t even detail our routine for you because I am too embarrassed at how far I have fallen. Suffice it to say she doesn’t use her alarm clock anymore because I have to wake her up. And unlike me, she doesn’t pop out of bed raring to go. She is a morning sloth. If I had a penny for each time I said to her, “Look at the clock. We have to leave soon. Eat your breakfast. Yes, I’ll tie your shoes for you while you brush your teeth (shameful but true)”, I would be driving around town in my dream car. A 1965 Candy Apple Red convertible Mustang.

In the meantime, every morning for the last week or so, I’ve pulled up the calendar on my phone and tallied up the remaining school days: 4 more days of early morning band practice, 7 more days of patrol duty and a total of 19 more school days. Of those 19 days, she’ll only be with me for 14 mornings. The other five she’ll be at her father’s house.  And the last week of school is only a 3 day week, because of the Memorial Day holiday, and one full day of that is the fifth grade party.

But who’s counting?

Next year will be different. She won’t have to get up so early. She’ll be able to wake up slowly, on her own, and still be on time to school. And tie her own shoes, make her own lunch and even do a few chores in the morning. (I can dream, can’t I?) And we’ll break out of our current morning-time song and dance. I’ll lead the way. After all, it’s my responsibility. I’m the parent. And I’ll be a better parent for it. A better mother for it. And that’s one of my goals. To keep getting better. My mom always is.

And by the way, Happy Mother’s Day!