I jolt awake to the sound of a daughter’s fierce whisper in the hallway.

I wake up this way often. I’m not a morning person, and since I work from home I’ve put myself in last priority for showers, so for years it’s been common for me to be the last person up and out of bed. I’m actually pretty proud of the girls’ self-sufficiency: they make their own breakfasts and pack their own lunches, they are mostly very good about organizing homework and planning their morning departures. This is the result of deliberate, conscious parenting choices. . . but the truth is, it’s also the result of having a mother who simply does not operate at peak performance prior to 7 am even when she tries.

Most mornings, the girls are already in mid-routine and Cute W has long since gotten up to feed the cat while I’m still snuggled in bed. Most days my body clock kicks in about twenty minutes before M has to leave for school, and I head downstairs slowly and offer assistance while the girls assure me that they have it all under control, thank-you-very-much. This is my preferred wake-up method.

Less common, and far less preferred, is getting jolted awake when I sense a Disturbance in the Force. A slammed door, J’s audible stress (a combination of hurried movements and the occasional audible squeak), or the dreaded flurry of fierce sister-whispers. I sleep through the cat meows and coffee bean grinding like a dream, but a Disturbance in the Force acts like a shot of adrenaline. Not that I’ll necessarily step into the argument or whatever else is causing such stress, but I place myself into high alert, just in case. Like a UN Peacekeeping Observer or something.

So, the other morning, my eyes flew open at the sound of a fierce whisper. A cheerful and casual chat between the girls is possible once they’re dressed and downstairs, packed up and ready to go, but generally speaking, any interaction prior to their taking showers is likely trouble in the form of a bathroom territorial dispute. My instinctive awakening was followed by the slow chugga-chug of the gears turning in my mind. It took a few minutes for my morning brain to register the actual content of the whisper: “We’re going to Paris tomorrow!”

I smiled and snuggled under my covers.

I had read somewhere that one of the greatest pleasures of a vacation is anticipating it. Oh, look. Here’s an article about it, and surprise! It actually includes a drawing of me getting ready for our Paris vacation!

For years, we’d had a goal to do a big national parks trip. That was two summers ago, and it was excellent. The next big travel goal was leaving the country: the girls haven’t even been to Canada yet. So we got ourselves passports so that we could jump if a good deal to anywhere-in-Europe presented itself.

When we bought our tickets and arranged for an apartment in Paris, it was a big investment, so I wanted to wring as much pleasure out of the trip as possible. That means starting the pleasure before the trip itself.

So I created a Paris Countdown that we placed on our fridge

and I printed out a “Paris Fact of the Day” that J would rush to read to us each morning.

The family watched Amélie, everyone put Duolingo on their phone, and I brought home stacks of books from the library, and we were gifted with even more books. I really enjoyed The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino, which was just fun for getting excited and put the street on our “must visit” list, and Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb, which is a collection of nonfiction stories that took place in Paris and offer up a history of the city along the way. The truth is that both of these books only got a hearty skim from me, but that’s because they’re two books in  a pile of many, many others that I also skimmed but wouldn’t recommend as highly. And finally, Rick Steves’ book on Paris was in my backpack throughout our trip.

We got home yesterday. There’s tons to tell you about. But there’s also tons of laundry to do. And I need a nap. So, stay tuned. Don’t forget: anticipation is part of the fun!




  1. Big Sister

    I have to say I am a big fan of Rick Steve’s Italy. He does a great job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.