A few days ago my husband was making a sandwich and he thanked me for buying his favorite honey wheat bread.
He followed his thank you with “Remember when we got in a fight about bread?”
“You’re thinking of someone else,” I said.
“No I’m not … remember we got in that fight about what kind of bread we were going to feed our kids? You cried.”
Now it was ringing a bell. I don’t remember it, but I’m 100% sure he’s right. The crying was the clincher. That was definitely me.
Bread was something I used to care an awful lot about. Evelyn’s lips were never going to touch white bread, and certainly not a standard PBJ. If I deigned to make that sandwich for my firstborn it would be chunky natural cashew butter with some exotic marmalade on grainy, seedy, stoneground, organic, hand made, preservative free bread. And the crusts would be ON, damn it.
The obvious direction of this post would be to talk about how at 12-months old Evelyn was eating homemade organic sweet-potato-and-whitefish-galletes while at 12-months Lottie is eating discarded bits of Alex’s hot dog off the floor at Costco.
Or how Evelyn’s diaper was changed religiously every 30 minutes while Lottie’s is only changed when it starts dragging on the ground.
Or how my firstborn wasn’t allowed to look in the direction of a TV until she was two, and meanwhile tonight on our date I’m going to ask Eric about the feasibility of installing a TV in the nursery.
I could really get going on the first kid/third kid comparisons. In fact I could write a whole blog post about how all that organic fish oil might have actually screwed me over, as it’s made Evelyn a little too smart for her own good, which has made parenting her a real gas. It will be a miracle if we make it through year 4 with our sanity.
Instead, though, it got me thinking about what else I might care an awful lot about right now that won’t actually make a difference in the long run. Or at least that I won’t give a hoot about once I get around to Lottie’s 4th year.
Right now it’s bedtime. Oh, how I loathe bedtime. You could put anyone who’s ever jilted me together in a room with Miley Cyrus and the whole Kardashian Clan and I still wouldn’t loathe that room the way I loathe bedtime. (It’d be close, though.)
As is the case with almost anything, expectations are the first glaring issue. Despite knowing better, I still hold out hope that bedtime will be a warm, loving, snuggly time full of sweet stories and quiet prayers and warm tiny hands snuggling my neck and little eyes closing gently as I tiptoe out of their rooms.
Instead it’s a screaming, crying mess full of shouts to go potty NOW or there will be no books and pinning Alex’s hands between my own so he’ll stay still for prayer time and sticky hands (about two weeks overdue for a nail trim) clawing at my neck when I try to get out of bed and little eyes shooting fire darts at me as the human they belong to body-slams her closed door in protest.
I have to exclude Lottie from this description, as she is an angel who sticks her thumb in her mouth and looks quietly at me the second I lay her down, whether I choose to do it at 3:45 or 7. And then doesn’t make a peep until we go in to wake her up the next morning and she’s just sitting quietly in her crib playing with her stuffed animals.
We’re in the process of changing our will to reflect this.
Even Alex isn’t all that bad, though lately he’s been waiting to poop until 45-minutes after bedtime, and then it smells like Ebola, if Ebola has a smell. How can a kid who exclusively eats crackers produce the waste of someone who’s just spent a week dining with the Bedouins?
So Alex and Lottie are easy enough to put to bed, hazardous waste aside.
Evelyn’s our biggest issue at bed time. Enter that organic fish oil. What’s most infuriating is that I’m doing everything “they” say I’m supposed to be doing. Other than the occasional desperation threat, I lay out very clear expectations and don’t give out warnings. She knows exactly what she’s supposed to do and what will happen if she doesn’t.
And she doesn’t. Repeatedly. Every single night. It looks a little like this:
“Evelyn, remind me what the rule is at bedtime?”
“I can have my door open if I’m quiet and stay in bed.”
“Exactly. Love you, sleep well.”
**5 minutes later — check monitor and find Evelyn standing on rocking chair at the window calling greetings to the neighbor walking his dog**
“This is sad, Ev. Looks like your door will have to be closed now.”
Cue body slamming the door as I hold it shut. Cue screaming at decibels known only to Jet Engines and Personal Safety Alarms. Cue both Alex and Lottie being jolted from whatever light sleep they may have fallen into.
Then she spends about 20 minutes yelling about how she wishes Daddy would stay home and I would leave. Sometimes she gets so worked up I swear she’s speaking in tongues. She’s just out. of. her. mind.
And that’s just the door. Then there’s the night light fight … apparently the 4 night lights and 3 additional flashlights on her pillow aren’t enough. There’s the book fight, because every. single. night. when I tell her that if she’d like a book then she needs to go potty and put her PJ’s on while I’m putting Lottie to bed, she hears “Go play submarine with your brother in his bunk beds.” So there’s never a book. Cue more screaming.
And in between me leaving her room and her standing on her chair playing neighborhood ambassador, there are a million “Mommy I need _____”s. I need water. I need a back scratcher. I need my snow globes turned on. I need a book to look at. I need a unicorn that farts rainbows.
By the time bedtime is over I’ve lost not only the will to live, but also the motivation to clean up whatever mess is waiting for me downstairs. This has led the to resurrection of the shower beer, a tradition I thought I left in college.
But then I go in to kiss her goodnight when I go to bed and find her like this, all cool and collected like going to sleep is no big deal.
Anyway, my point is that I wonder what we’ll remember about this in three years. The most recent parenting discussion I cried through with Eric was when we were discussing whether or not we should give her the option to start with her door open or just close it from the get-go. I voted for letting her try, only because closing it from the get-go means immediate body-slamming and screaming, whereas if we let her start with it open, at least I have time to run downstairs and take a shot before I inevitably have to come back upstairs to close it.
Who knows. Stay tuned, I’ll post a follow-up in a few years, assuming I’m still sane and Eric doesn’t come home to me sucking my thumb in the corner while upstairs the kids throw a party that they finally won bedtime.
Meanwhile, tonight is my one night off. Tonight we’re paying someone else (and not nearly enough) to deal with the terror that is bedtime.
I’ll be drinking all the wine, talking to Eric about installing that TV in Lottie’s room.