My Wonderful Morning Writing Routine

Featuring: a friendly ghost, my sleeping wife & my baby son

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I’m dreaming of the ocean. My wife and I are relaxing at a tropical beach. We can hear the sound of the waves, the summer breeze and a baby screaming.

It’s not a dream. There’s a baby screaming. I rub my eyes and see my wife is still sleeping peacefully, probably dreaming of a tropical beach. She looked after our son alone in the previous two days while I traveled for work. This night is mine.

I go to my son’s room and help him roll over to his usual sleeping position. He could do it by himself, of course, but why bother? That’s why I’m here.

On my way back to my room, in the dark, I come up with an idea for a horror story.

I realise I won’t be able to sleep unless I write my story. Jotting down the idea won’t work: I need to write the whole thing. For a second I reach out to turn on my bedside lamp, but no. My wife would rightfully strangle me for turning on the lights at 4 AM. That would be a horror story, wouldn't it? I pick up my phone instead.

The literary world can sleep in peace. My story is safe. I close Evernote, put my phone away and try to go back to sleep.

I dream of how brilliant my short story will be. The movie adaptation is out. People recognise me in the streets. “You’re the guy who wrote that scary story!” they say. Some of them stop me to take pictures. There are even mothers asking me to kiss their babies, like I’m some sort of politician. One of the babies is screaming.

Yes, you guessed it. I’m awake again. I go to my son’s room and find him sitting up. I help him lie down again and he goes back to sleep.

Back in bed. I know I should go to sleep, but I’m curious. Is the story any good? I open Evernote and find this:

~*~*~My Great Horror Story Idea~*~*~

I wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of my baby son screaming. When I get to his room in the dark, my wife is already there, holding him in her arms. I go back to bed and realise, to my horror, that my wife had been there sleeping the whole time. Through the baby monitor, I hear the sound of an inhuman voice humming a lullaby. The creature is still there, with my baby son in its arms.

Ooooh. Spooky, right? Right?!

I put my phone away again and try to go back to sleep.

A minute after I close my eyes, my baby son starts screaming again. Screw the ghost. This is the real horror story.

I go to my son’s room and he’s using the bars of the cot to pull himself up. He’s not going back to sleep — not now, not here.

I’ve been in this situation before. There are two options:

1) Take him out of his cot and sit on the floor with a smile on my face while he explores his toys.

2) Take him to our bed, give him a cuddle, let him fall asleep on my chest, then put him back on his cot and sleep for another hour.

Option 1 is a wonderful way to nurture his creativity and independence. Option 2 lets me sleep just a little bit more. I pick 2. I always pick 2. It’s 5 AM, after all. He can be creative and independent later.

My son is half asleep on my chest when he decides he wants to stick his hand in my mouth. When I try to stop him, he screams. I give in so that he won’t wake up my wife.

Fully awake, I read my story again and realise my 4 AM ideas are as bad as everyone else’s. I should really stop picking up my phone in the middle of the night to write that kind of nonsense.

Horror story? Now that I think about it, it would be awesome if a supernatural entity took care of my baby son in the middle of the night while my wife and I slept in. Are there any local ghosts looking for accommodation? We have a vacancy here.

I try to put my son back in his cot, but he’s having none of it. No. He wants to sleep on my chest, in our bedroom, with his tiny hand inside my mouth. Those are his final terms, and any attempt to negotiate will be met by screaming.

There’s no way I’m falling asleep with a hand in my mouth. Maybe I should write something. I pick up my phone, but Safari is right next to my writing apps. One quick browse won’t hurt, right?

There’s this one article about how a creative morning routine will change your life. No, sorry. Two articles. Wait. Three, four, five… apparently everyone has written the same post. Against my better judgment, I spend half an hour reading a bunch of them.

After reading all those stories about creative morning routines, I realise there’s a distinct lack of screaming babies. Everyone writes as if their perfect mornings happened in a vacuum. I see three possible explanations:

1) All self-help gurus have decided to go childless and will remove themselves from the gene pool within a generation.

2) They are all lying.

3) They all have a friendly ghost who looks after the kids during their two-hour yoga-jogging-meditation-journaling-cold shower sessions.

My money is on option 3.

I’ve never thought of this, but all self-help gurus were babies once. I find myself wondering about how their morning routines were. Did they wake up in the middle of the night doing yoga instead of screaming?

There’s an article saying Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, wakes up at 4 AM every day. Well, at least we have something in common. I wonder if he also has a tiny baby hand in his mouth right now. Nah. I bet all CEOs have at least one friendly ghost.

The sun is up. Maybe it’s time to start my creative morning routine. Is it possible to meditate with a baby hand in my mouth? Do I turn on the lights to start journaling? Are there any yoga positions I can do in bed without waking up my son and wife?

I’m still in bed reading self-help articles. Now they’re getting me a bit depressed. When will I ever have a creative morning routine? What is a morning? What is a routine?

Enough self-help for today. It’s time to write.

My baby son is screaming again — a different, higher-pitched scream this time. He’s hungry. Even a ghost would be scared of him now.

I wake up my wife and ask if she could go to the kitchen and prepare a bottle of milk. She tells me tonight is my night. I argue that it’s morning already. She protests. I point out that I still have a baby hand in my mouth, which stops me from discussing the issue any further. She walks to the kitchen in silence.

My wife brings me the bottle and instantly goes back to sleep. I feed my son and he dozes off, too. He briefly takes his right hand off my mouth, but sticks the left hand in its place before I can breathe a sigh of relief.

Everyone is asleep. If I’m writing anything at all today, it has to be now. The horror story idea is lame — there’s no way I’m going back to that one. Maybe I should write a post about my creative morning routine. Everyone seems to be doing that.

Lying in bed in the dark, with my sleeping wife beside me and my baby son’s entire hand in my mouth, I write this.

My son wakes up. He’s about to get hungry again. Before he wakes up my wife, I grab him and go to the kitchen for a one-armed cooking session. Someone has to do it. There’s no sign of a friendly ghost anywhere. The banana porridge isn’t going to cook itself.

Written by

I write short stories. I also write about writing. If I'm procrastinating on both, I write about why I haven't been writing. E-mail:

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