Every parent wants to hear those three little words. No, I’m not talking about “I love you” or even “I want you.” I’m talking about the best three words in the history of parenting: “I’ll handle bedtime.”
I’ll tell you — nothing gets me in the mood faster than hearing my man say those words to me at the end of a day spent with my kids. He could walk in and say “We won millions” and I wouldn’t bat an eye (okay, maybe a little for the millions comment), but when he says he’ll tackle the bedtime routine, I swoon like a teenager behind the bleachers.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. But the thought of putting them to bed literally gives me the sweats. The endless requests for snacks, milk, and water are enough to drive me up the wall. No lie, I get lots of my steps in for the day by walking up and down the stairs at bedtime. The path from my kids’ room to the kitchen and back is exactly 65 steps. Countless trips back and forth, and my daily steps are taken care of.
Let’s not even mention the countless wardrobe changes. My toddler picks out pajamas, then five minutes later decides she wants doggies instead of cats. One night she was wearing pajamas with feet and she had to change out of them because she didn’t think she could fit her slippers over them in the morning. What?!
Then there’s the struggle of light off versus light on. If anyone walks by our house at bedtime they would probably think we are having a disco party. Light on, light off, on, off. Over and over. For what feels like an hour.
And here’s my favorite: My daughter has to sleep with like ten blankets on her. AND they have to be in a specific order. If I put the purple crochet on top of the pink quilt, then I’ve completely messed up the pattern and we have to take all the blankets off and start over again. The next night I think I’m supermom because I’ve learned the pattern, so I know I will get it right the first time — only to find out that the pattern has changed (of course!). It’s enough to make me want to come tie all the blankets together and use it as an escape route out her second story window.
Of course, if you say no to any of these tiny dictator’s demands then you’ve just punished yourself with 20 more minutes of hell. The crying, the tantrums, the dramatic sobs and stomps. It is all par for the bedtime course.
Then, there’s the kicker, when you think you’ve finally gotten them down. Their tummies are full, bladders are empty, all the blankets are on, the favorite stuffed animals found and placed perfectly in their spots. You sneak quietly out of their rooms and breathe a sigh of relief. You did it. You wrangled the monster. You got a toddler to bed without completely losing it. Pat on the back, Mom. But then you take one step and hear, “MOM!!!” And it’s the worst sound you’ve ever heard. You obviously forgot something incredibly imperative to their ability to sleep. And suddenly you plummet back down to reality. That proud moment was nice while it lasted. Welcome back to bedtime hell, momma.
I’m going to be real here. Sometimes I close the door and run as fast as I can down the hall and jump into the shower. I stay in there, wash my hair (when was the last time I did that?!), shave my legs (now I know it’s been at least two weeks since I’ve done that — yikes) and just stand and enjoy the peace and quiet. Sure, I have the monitor near the shower, but sometimes I turn it down. That way I can hear if my child is screaming bloody murder, but it’s not loud enough for me to hear her say my name over and over again 100 times because she maybe just needs one more snack (which she won’t eat) or one more sip of water (which she won’t drink).
So when my husband willingly offers to do all of this in my place, I jump at the chance. It’s literally the greatest thing he can say to me at the moment.
It’s funny how your relationship evolves, and your needs evolve with it. When we started dating all I wanted to hear was, “I miss you” — at that time, those were the three little words that would send shock waves through me and make me giddy for days. Then “I love you,” and of course, “Please marry me.” And we can’t forget “I do, forever.”
In marriage, it became, “Let’s have babies.” Or “You look sexy.” But none of that does a thing for me now. Not one of those lines. In one ear, and out the other. But “I’ll handle bedtime?!” Yes please. Whatever you want, honey. Love you lots.