I spent the vast majority of my teenage years living with my dad, and my grandparents.
Every morning I would awake to the sound of my Nanna setting the breakfast table before she went for her morning walk to the corner shop to collect the newspaper.
Sometimes, if I woke early enough, I’d get up and lay out the table with her. Teapot and cups. Porridge and fruit. The bread for toasting, the spreads, the occasional grapefruit, and Pa’s favourite cheeses or meats.
It was the whole she-bang, every day.
Sometimes I’d get up after she’d left to get the paper, so I’d pour the tea for us all. And sometimes, I’d sleep in, and wander out to find breakfast well underway, with Pa scouring through the classifieds for bargains, and Nanna pondering the crossword.
I can’t adequately describe the sense of security and certainty that this morning ritual gave to me as a teenager.
At a time when I was figuring out who I was, and how to navigate the world, my Nanna managed to create a space in my day, every day, where I felt I could just be myself.
Sitting at that table, spreading my toast, and warming my hands with my cup, I knew that I could raise absolutely anything on my mind, without question. And more importantly, I knew that if I didn’t feel like talking, then that was okay too.
The tea and the toast, and the companionable silence as the newspapers were shuffled around, were exactly what I needed.
She’s a wizard, my Nan. And my Pa was too.
Raising my own children, I’ve never forgotten the importance of this morning ritual. And while my work hours make it difficult to maintain the consistency that she achieved every day, one thing that I make sure to include at some point in OUR day is a pot of tea.
We prepare it together. We sit together. And we talk. Or, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the words flow freely, and I find out all sorts of interesting things about my little humans. And sometimes, they say very little, just dunking biscuits in their tea cups, hoping I won’t notice that they’re onto the fourth one.
It’s my favourite time of the day, just as breakfast time with my grandparents used to be.
I’d like to think that my children will come to appreciate this little ritual, as much as I do. Right now, it probably doesn’t mean much to them.
But it means everything to me.