Its 8:15pm on a Friday night, and my 18-month old just feel asleep. Finally. Guess what time Mommy started putting her down? About 7pm. Uh, huh.
An hour and fifteen minutes of bedtime routine = Ridiculous. There’s no other word for it. It’s not even like she was fussy, over-stimulated, or throwing a tantrum; nothing of the sort. All she wanted to do was lay in my arms, her eyes wide open. Mommy was getting frustrated, as you can imagine. I was losing my sh*t. I sternly told her to close her eyes, to which she would politely and agreeably reply “okay,” and then continue to just stare at me.
Now if she were my first baby perhaps I might have enjoyed the gazing, and I doubt I would have gotten upset with her. But she is my third, and after I put her to sleep my husband and I still have to read with our older children and put them to bed. Hence, my frustration with knowing that my “relax” time this Friday night, well, it wouldn’t be starting for probably another 45 minutes.
Turns out, I was taking so long with the baby tonight that my husband read and put our little man and big girl to bed — or so I thought. Just as I was getting comfy on the couch, all curled up in my blanket with my computer and a bottle of wine, I heard cries on the monitor. Yep — one kid already up. So of course, not being one to let my kiddos cry-it-out at any age, I went up to snuggle the oldest princess.
Then she began to do what I remember always doing to my mom — making sure she was touching me. She was holding on to me tight, so that she would feel me if I attempted to sneak out of the bed. UGH! Doesn’t she know that Mommy disappears after 8pm, and that I get to be “Nicole” for a few hours before the baby beckons to lay on me in my bed?
So, what did I do? Well, I did what all terrific mothers do when their children are frustrating them by not going to sleep — I yelled at her to “go to sleep!”. If you haven’t noticed, I occasionally seem to behave in a way that will most definitely not earn me “Mother of the Year”.
How did the rest of the night play out, you ask? Well, here I am now on the computer typing this and feeling guilty. Mainly over the fact that my kids are just being kids. They are all acting in age-appropriate ways, and are not intentionally trying to “take my night away from me”.
Wow, I can’t believe that I think like that sometimes. It’s slightly embarrassing, this I do know. But in my writing, I’m all about being real, raw, and authentic; and the real, raw, authentic me isn’t afraid to share that I need my “me time” at night.
Most of my day is spent with at least one of my three children. For half of the day I have all three. When I am not with the kids I am writing, doing laundry, or cleaning. I don’t read for pleasure and I don’t mindlessly peruse magazines. I don’t sit down and watch tv and I don’t drink wine in the middle of the day, despite what some believe is typical for a SAHM or a WAHM.
Right now, at this stage of my life, my time is split between my family, my work, and maintaining a household. And, even for the unaccounted few minutes here and there that I am seemingly “taking a break,” I’m not because I am always thinking about my family, or my writing, or how I am failing to maintain my household.
I make mistakes. Heck, I make a lot of mistakes. And tonight, I made the mistake, out of frustration, to raise my voice to two of my three children because they were both merely having trouble sleeping. I guarantee you that had my third been awake, I probably would have yelled at him as well. Looking back on it, if I was having trouble sleeping, the absolutely last thing that would help me fall asleep is someone yelling at me. Sometimes, well, I just don’t think…
But, here’s what I am going to do. I am going to cut myself some slack tonight. I am going to take another sip of my barely touched wine and continue to relax through my writing, and probably a mindless Friday night movie that the hubby picks out.
One good thing about how I have parented my children is that they know and understand that no one is perfect, including Mommy. Because of this, and the fact that I will shower them with kisses in the morning, I know they won’t be too traumatized by tonight’s events.
Mothers put ourselves on unnecessary guilt trips all of the time when it comes to our parenting blunders, of which there are a lot. We are going to mess up, way more often than we expect or want. Yet, at the end of the day — you and I — we must remind ourselves that showing up for our kids — by getting out of bed each morning, ready and willing to tend to everyone else’s needs but our own — well, sometimes, that’s just plain enough.