Does it look like this?
|I really positioned myself badly in this one, didn't I.|
Or does it maaaaaybe look like this? (at least occasionally)
What's up with those people in the last picture?
I don't know them.
When I was a small child, I remember that my parents would become particularly enraged at around 8 pm every evening.
They would give us our baths, help us into our pajamas, comb our hair, and say prayers with us in an efficient manner.
Beneath this efficiency was a thinly veiled fury.
You see, when you have one child, you can act like Calliou's parents and let that kid take you for a ride for the entire evening, because you still have a sliver of energy left at 7 pm.
I know some of you are glaring at me. I can feel it. But I speak from experience. Trust me on this.
With one, you can take your time more.
"Oh it's time to read Johnny a story! Oh you want another story now Johnny? wellll...oh kaaay buddy."
Suddenly you're reading Johnny his 78th story and now he wants to have an arm wrestling match. Then Johnny wants to build a lego helicopter with you, and it's 10 pm but how can you say no? You feel sorry for the little guy because he's kinda lonely.
After that Johnny wants a three egg omelot with sausage and chopped vegetables and mild cheddar and hey it's practically breakfast time anyway! Up and at em!
When you have more kids, you start looking forward to your childrens' bedtime like a crack addict hyping for his next rock.
It's not because you don't love your kids.
And it's not because you went too far in your wild agenda to overthrow the United Nations and replace every stitch of green on the planet with a set of human eyes.
Remember, naysayers: these kids are gonna be paying your social security, so try not to get yourselves in too much of a huff.
Hold your heads high, families. Ain't no shame in yo game.
It's just because you've been giving even more of yourself all day and NOW YOU ARE DOGASS TIRED. And you would like to chill for awhile and eat a lowfat yogurt in peace.
So my parents would get us ready for bed, kiss us goodnight and assure us of their love, and turn out the lights.
And that is when we would begin destroying their entire evening.
"MAAAAAAH-MEEEEEEEE!!!!!" we would sing in harmony together, sounding eerily like a Children of the Corn choir, "I WANNA DRINK OF WAAAAAAA - TERRRRRRR".
This was a real song that we would sing, which we had invented ourselves in a shared desire for more hydration as well as a sense of community.
Then we would hear my mother call upon the Holy Family for help.
"Jesus Mary and JOSEPH!!!!" she would hiss.
I used to think "Gee whiz. My parents are so mean."
But I get it now.
Every night, after the children have been tucked into bed, after their baths and stories and prayers and repeated hugs and kisses..it begins. The shout-outs, the cries of adulation.
"MOMMY!!! I LOVE YOU!"
"MOMMY?!?! ARE YOU STILL UP HERE??? WILL I SEE YOU TOMORROW?!?!?!"
"DADDY I LOVE YOU!!!"
"MOM AND DAD!!!WE LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!"
"YEAH WE LOVE YOU GUYS!!!"
I want to say to them "Hold up a second. This is not the Grammy's, ok?! You are NOT at a concert."
Then, the requests.
Kid 1: Can I have some water?
Kid 2: yeah I'm thirsty.
Kid 3: I'm firsty too mom.
You walk around with a cup of water, your hand gripping the cup so hard that it's shaking, your teeth clenched. You start feeling like you're carrying a watering can, caring for an entire garden. You walk from bed to bed, watering and watering.
Then you say "That's IT!!!! OKAY?!?!?! THAT'S IT. EVERYone! GO TO BED."
And it is quiet for 30 seconds.
And then: "Mom? I have to pee."
"FINE GO PEE!!!"
"I have to pee too, Mom."
You call upon the Holy Family. Inside though, in a more prayerful manner, because catechesis was better for you than it was for your parents.
A small voice then says "Can I, too?"
And this is when your rage boils over.
You kick the side of your bed, you bang your head on a door frame, you eat a 12 pack of donuts... whatever it takes to calm yourself down.
|The grace of the vocation.|
This is what my spiritual director refers to as "Pass Me The Ball."
He is a wise man.
When one spouse is ready to crack, the other one comes along and says "pass me the ball", and they excuse you from your duties and take over for you.
Note: please plan to intervene before blood and donuts come into play.
Another Note: please whisper the words "pass me the ball". Do NOT say them loud enough for the children to hear or they will race out of their rooms with their shinguards on, ready to run soccer drills through the home.
I once read a book called "The Sleep Lady."
In this book, the author suggests sitting very close to your children as they fall asleep for the first few nights, then moving your chair further away from the bed each night that follows.
Soon you will be out in the hallway. Then a few nights later, downstairs.
The problem with this is that many parents may not be able to stop at sitting in their livingroom or even their front porch.
They would just keep moving their chair.
Out the door. Down the driveway. Down the road. Over to the gas station (why?). To the mall, sitting in their chair at the Gap. Partially immersed in a shallow creek, fishing in their chair.
Everywhere in their chair!!!
Everywhere but home.
|Another happy customer.|
Every family is different, and you have to find what will work for yours.
In our family, bedtime is often a true living hell, and my husband and I try to plan accordingly.
It helps when you can mentally prepare yourself by saying the St Michael the Archangel prayer, doing some jumping jacks while chomping on some good quality gum and reminding yourself that, yo... you are going into battle.
You are a soldier. Soldiers must be prepared.
But one night you will be eating your yogurt, chatting with your spouse, when suddenly there might be a very short dinosaur standing at the top of the stairs.
It's your kid in his favorite costume.
For cripes sake, let yourself have a laugh! Because that kid?
That kid is a genius.