“Mommy I’m hungry.”

It was 5:25 a.m.

It was dark.

I thought it was the middle of the night but, even worse, it was a mere 20 minutes before my alarm would ring to allegedly start the day.

Instead of my phone’s digital disquiet waking me, I had the most delicious three-year-old standing next to my bed. So patient. So sweet. So hungry.

So early.

Squinting from early morning blindness because I had neither contacts nor glasses at that predawn hour, “Come in our bed for 10 minutes and when my alarm goes off, I’ll make you something to eat.”

“Ok, Mommy.”

Fumbling for my eyeglasses, barely able to see while this monkey climbed across and over me to make a nest between Mommy and Daddy that would be just right for the next few minutes, I reset my alarm to have it ring 10 minutes earlier even though I still had 20 minutes to go. I wanted, needed, was desperate for, a few more minutes of even pretend sleep, yet I literally reversed the snooze button. An ultimate definition of mommyhood.

Snuggling became squirming. It was still dark but this kid needed to get his day going. He was antsy. There was no point to wait eight more minutes.

I inhaled my boy as I picked him up and he became precious cargo. With his arms hugging my neck and his legs wrapped around my waist, we tiptoed downstairs so not to wake the rest of our family. They were lucky to still be sleeping, but I had an even better prize.

He wanted eggy weggies, please. Of course he did. Not the easy handful of dry cereal I had been hoping he’d say he was craving so we could crawl back upstairs and maybe get a minute of shut-eye before the sun woke up. At least he said please.

I say please, too—for more times like this one. I had no idea that the next few minutes would become so meaningful. Looking back on the simplicity of the morning makes my mommy heart go pitter patter.

He pulled a chair up to the kitchen counter, so excited as he carefully took the eggs out of the carton.

We cracked the first egg together and, then, “Look! Mommy, I did it!” He cracked the second one by himself and was so proud. And happy. I think I forgot to be tired at this point.

Together, we beat the eggs. I taught him adding a drop of milk makes them fluffier because my dad had taught me that at some point. I don’t know if it makes a difference with almond milk, but we did it anyway.

He poured the eggs into the pan.

In the hush of the quiet house, we talked about what it means to be patient as we waited for the eggs to scramble on the low heat, him insisting on holding the spoon and scrambling them by himself. “Mommy, I’m big now! I can do it. Let go!”

With a little help from Mommy that he finally, reluctantly permitted, the eggs scrambled. He got his bowl and fork from the cabinet. We sat at the kids’ soon-to-be outgrown little table. He happily ate the eggs all up while I happily took it all in. “Mommy, my tummy says it’s not hungry anymore!”

I didn’t realize the sun had come up while we cooked in those few minutes. The sky had become that orangey pink that only the people who wake up very early get to see. What I did realize was we were upon one of those thresholds life presents when moments of realtime become memories of the past.

This morning was one of those moments and is now one of those memories I’ll look back on with a smile that is bittersweet. How grateful I am that—somehow, someway at this crack of dawn hour—I had been present. I had soaked up the seconds of what easily could have been a miserable, too early start to my day. Instead, it became a most meaningful memory I made with my boy.

He gave me a gift that morning: one of pause and presence. Priceless. Especially when shared moments are often fleeting . . . running on fast-forward. Since the poor guy still doesn’t have a baby book, hopefully this written reminder will one day spark the memory of this moment. As much as I want us to remember it forever, I know he never will and my own superpower to remember detail has diminished with motherhood.

Maybe one day, he’ll make me breakfast, and it will remind me of this particular morning: his sweet three-year-old voice, his small hands, his big heart, and how that early morning darkness brought so much light to my life.

Ilana Lipson Cohen

Ilana Lipson Cohen counts her blessings as a beyond-full-time working wife and mom who has the romantic notion that she can cook for her family like Ina but the reality that PB&J is usually what’s for dinner. Find her on Facebook at Holding Hands Forever and on Twitter.