I love my children. There, I said it. I love them more than life itself and can’t imagine my life without them.
Here’s something I do not love: Putting my kids to bed. I hate putting my kids to bed.
I have a friend who once told me that she absolutely loves putting her children to bed and thoroughly looks forward to tucking them in each and every night. I don’t know why I am still friends with her. She makes me feel bad about myself.
Am I a bad mom because from 6:00 in the evening on I watch the clock like a hawk impatiently waiting for bedtime to roll around, to the point that I physically feel like my heart is going to jump out of my chest from the anticipation?
From the moment I get up in the morning to the time my children go to bed, I work my ass off as a wake-up service, personal chef, time keeper, butt wiper, referee, chauffeur, therapist, teacher, cleaning lady, laundry doer, grocery shopper, negotiator, activity director, circus ring leader, drill sergeant, life size kleenex, fashion consultant, nurse, playmate, professional wall climber (figuratively, not literally), jack of all trades, and master of NONE. Do I want a biscuit for performing these duties day after day after day with little to no gratitude? No. I want a 15-minute break. A real one. Not one that involves me locking myself in the bathroom while I pretend to take the shit that I am not taking as they stand on the opposite side of the door knocking and asking me repeatedly what I am doing, the reason it’s taking me so long (it’s been one minute), and why they can’t come in to watch.
I am quite certain that many people will think that I am a heartless mother because I would prefer not to read my kids one more book at bedtime, but would rather pour myself a glass of wine and sit in the dark by myself wondering what the hell just happened…again.
Here’s a look at the bedtime routine in my house: Reading at least three books to each child (they pick the longest ones that we own, every time), supervising and facilitating the “go potty and teeth brushing process” (to which there is never enough room at the sink and everyone feels entitled to spit at the same time), and personally escorting my children into their separate bedrooms amidst record breaking whines, while reminding them over and over again that bedtime is non-negotiable. Seriously, they never win this battle. Why do we have to relive the same unpleasant sequence of events every single night? Can’t we learn from our mistakes and simply agree that we could all benefit from some real self reflection when it comes to our behavior at bedtime?
Here’s what happens once they are actually in their rooms: I have to “suck” the nightmares out of their heads (an intense series of events that involves me trying to convince them that I have some sort of magical control over their inner demons). Thereafter, I proceed to tuck them in tight, give 27+ hugs and kisses, whisper sweet nothings in their ears, and then slowly inch backwards out of their room in hopes of no further contact until morning. To which I get one foot out the door and like clockwork both of my daughters have an absolute mind-blowing epiphany. “Mom, I forgot to tell you something REALLY important!”
And so it begins; a ping pong game in which I am the little white plastic ball bouncing from room to room while internally trying to talk myself from jumping off my imaginary cliff and/or screaming at the top of my lungs, “GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP!”
Seriously, I am done. I want to punch out. I need to punch out. I don’t, though, until they finally release me from their death grip and fall asleep.
I then spend the two hours before I go to bed packing their lunch for tomorrow, making sure they remembered to hang up the wet snow pants (which they did not) so that they are dry by morning, filling out permission slips, and attempting to drink just the right amount of wine to avoid a morning headache yet prevent me from obsessively worrying about the fact that some day they will be all grown up and I will terribly miss our bedtime routine. Currently known as the shit storm that I dread every single night.
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