Day 55: Bedtime Fantasy

Each evening as bedtime nears I imagine it’s going to be a smooth experience.

I’ll say, Ok upstairs for bedtime! And that the girls will jump up from whatever they are doing (instead of crying and explaining why they can’t possibly stop playing). Then they will happily sing their way up the stairs (instead of taking what feels like 7 years to climb the steps– backwards, sideways–in any fashion that might be funny, interesting, new or dangerous, but certainly not fast.) After that they will skip straight to the bathroom to brush their teeth (instead of running in the opposite direction.) After teeth brushing we will hold hands and walk to their bedrooms to get their pajamas on (instead this requires more wrangling especially if there is a stinker in the diaper.) In my fantasy, they each choose a story they are dying to read and we snuggle up altogether to read it (instead typically one of them nearly loses the chance to have a story at all for not getting their pajamas on or not participating properly in teeth brushing.)

No matter how all that bedtime prep goes down, once they are in bed we always have prayers and snuggles. But somehow even after that– goodnight is almost never just goodnight. Some discussion usually follows. (Think–I need a drink, I have to go potty, I don’t want to lay in my bed, where is my stuffed animal I haven’t cared about in six months but I desperately need right now?)

My point here is not to complain, it’s more to laugh at my fantasy version of this experience. As soon as they are finally asleep, I am onto the next thing. By the time bedtime rolls around the next evening, I’ve forgotten altogether how it went the night before and I start again armed with the same silly fantasy.

As I describe this I realize it’s a bit of a vicious cycle. And it is dawning on me that we do this in so many areas of our lives. I mean we allow ourselves to repeat a pattern that doesn’t really work for us. There are plenty of circumstances when we should make an effort to effect change. But just for today, I don’t blame us. This realization is actually giving me some empathy for my husband, so I think I should ride that wave at least for a few minutes. Let me explain…

In my more critical moments I accuse him of continually putting himself in situations that make his life difficult. I point out that he could change the way he does things to have a better flow or a better outcome. And he could, just like I could put some effort into making bedtime have a better flow. But in both of our situations there are variables that interfere with our ability to implement the perfect system. The variables are mostly people. In my case the people are the children.

Basically I just caught myself doing the same thing I criticize him for doing. And I have my reasons just like he does. And the bottom line is: Bedtime at our house isn’t traumatic, it just isn’t perfect. Could it go better? Yes. Could I re-construct it to run more smoothly? Maybe. Is that necessary? Not really. Does everyone feel loved and safe when they go to sleep? Yes. So, am I bad mommy for not obsessing over the perfect bedtime routine? Certainly not.

Today I’m reminded to just give people a break. Sometimes there really are good reasons for not doing things perfectly. And that really is ok.

Until tomorrow,

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... -Atticus Finch

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2 thoughts on “Day 55: Bedtime Fantasy

  1. Love reading these, Laurie. I feel the ebb and flow of these quarantine days too…usually on different days but I totally get it. I had to share today’s post with my husband bc I think we’re both guilty of wishing for that perfect bedtime. Miss you, my friend!

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