With the pandemic, I have been with my kids pretty much 24/7 for almost a year. I swear I hear “mom” about 288 times a day, there is always a kid in my personal space, and my ears literally ring at the end of the night from all the nonstop noise. I am tapped out, touched out, and mommed out. But every night, I make sure to take the time to kiss all 4 of my kids good night. And if I am being honest, it’s more for me than it is for them.
I have never claimed to be the perfect mom. I openly admit that I lose it with my kids regularly. And trying to navigate being home 24/7, working from home, virtual schooling, cooking 324 meals a week, and basically managing chaos has been particularly challenging. My patience is at a bare minimum, and I have lost my shit on multiple occasions. To be frank, I am barely making it through the days in one sane piece, and most days, I count down the hours and minutes till bedtime.
So when it’s time to put my kids to bed, I have little left to give. But I see bedtime as my chance to get a reprieve from anything that happened during the day. It’s my chance to say, “no matter what, I still love you.” It’s an opportunity to finally give them my undivided attention. And it’s a moment to connect with my kids that I may not get in the chaos of day-to-day life.
When I have the capacity to be present, bedtime is truly one of my favorite parts of the day. There are no devices, the house is quiet, and each kid gets me all to themselves, even if it is just for a moment. I can give back scratches, read books or listen to their new favorite song. This is often when the best conversations happen because my kids will actually willingly bring up something without me having to ask 50 different questions. And sometimes, we all end up in one run laughing, dancing, or just chatting.
All of my kiddos are in different phases, so bedtime is special with each of them for different reasons. My youngest is my last baby, so I know I need to cherish all the snuggles, kisses, and “I wuv yous” I can get. And with my daughter, bedtime is our girl time. I can read princess books and talk about all the things she doesn’t want to bring up in front of her brothers.
Obviously, my tween and teenager don’t need me to help them get ready for bed, but they still need that time with me. I know my days of cuddling or reading with my tween are numbered. He is teetering between still needing my cuddles and being too old to be bothered. On the other hand, my teenager spends half his day annoyed because, of course, I am always doing something to ruin his life. But bedtime is probably the one time in the day that I can tell him I love him and actually get a heartfelt “I love you” back without an eye-roll or grunt.
Don’t get me wrong, some days I am completely spent and I don’t have the capacity to entertain them for one more minute. I just want the day to be over because my kids have been tap dancing on my last nerve from the moment they woke up. They are overstimulated and I just want them to go the fuck to sleep. And sometimes that one kid does that one last flip on the bed and I lose my shit because I have been patient all day long and I just can’t hold it in for one more minute.
But no matter how many times I lose my patience, tell them to leave me alone, or don’t do that one thing I promised I would do … bedtime gives me an opportunity to let my kids know they are loved. I want them to know I still love them even if I am angry, frustrated, or annoyed. And if they are mad at me or don’t want to give me kisses, that’s ok too. I will be there to let them know I love them even if they don’t like me right at the moment.
There are nights I go to bed full of regrets. I go over my choices and actions that day and tear my parenting apart. And I have to remind myself I am not striving to be a perfect mom. I know that is an impossible standard to meet. The very reason kissing my kids good night is so important to me is because I am far from perfect. No matter what happened all day, taking the time to kiss my kids good night gives me a moment to feel like I did at least one thing to be a good mom.
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