When you become a parent you are automatically flooded with advice and one-liners, most of which you will hear a thousand times. Upon realizing their truth, you will then continue on the tradition by repeating them to the fresh parents you come across a decade later. I think one of the ones I hear the most at this point (2 kids under 6) is, “the days are long but the years are short” followed closely by its cousin, “you’re gonna miss these years.”
I have a son in grade school and I can see that these words are true already. I’m at home with the 3 year old and wanting to pull my hair out most days, but just looking at how long my son is gone each day I have a constant reminder to soak up the moments. So soak I will. There are a million special moments that I file away with fondness, but ladies and gents, you cannot tell me that the nightly battle of bedtime routines is one of them. Nope. Bedtime is the WORST.
Fingerprints on the wall, crumbs on the floor. Okay, yeah. I can see this. Pre-motherhood I would clean for fun, like several times a week. It was therapy. Since then I’ve chosen to overlook the messes on most days. I’m not saying I don’t hit a breaking point once in a while and completely flip out, cursing all the messy, disgusting people I live with. But I love a full house with noise and friends over. I love extra kids that inspire mine to actually play with their toys. I’m realizing I have way too much carpet in my house, (carpet plus kids equals so many disasters) but overall I feel much more endeared toward child-messes that are tied to good times.
But what the heck is that burst of energy they get around 7 pm?? Right when I’m at my weakest, that’s when it strikes- BAM! They are bouncing off the walls. They are screaming. They are wrestling and playing and actually not fighting for the first time all day. But why now?!?! I’m so tired. I can’t repeat myself anymore. I give the crazies a 5 minute warning before the whip cracks, knowing full well that I will be ignored when I try to resume the bedtime struggle and continue on with the routine. Guys, I’m old and grouchy and I need people to chill out after dinner.
Constant talking/rambling about who knows what. My kids talk early. And they talk well. I feel like I should have relished in their nonverbal days instead of inspiring them to say “Mommy” from the start. But I will say the things that come out of their mouths sometimes have me in stitches! Sometimes you have to suffer through 2.5 hours of endless Pokemon talk before they actually say something golden, but when they do it’s alllll worth it. And I understand that it won’t be long before they have phones and are telling their friends all of the worthless nonsense along with all the golden stuff, so these are the years for listening. You gotta tune out a little so your brain doesn’t explode, but the chatter is to be cherished.
But who decided that kids needed their teeth brushed like 6 years before they could actually do it on their own?? It’s not funny. You’re laughing because you have lost sanity trying to hold your toddler down every day (I know it’s supposed to be twice but c’mon, I’m doing my best here..) while magically growing some third arm that will navigate the tiny toothbrush into their chomping jaws. You guys this part is bananas- the gagging, the “I DO IT MYSELF”, the full 60 seconds with a timer that I swear is no less than 10 minutes, the hands splashing in their toothpaste spit in the sink.. It’s ridiculous. When they can brush their teeth well on their own I’m throwing a full out fiesta that will be as long as the total minutes I spent in the hades of the dental hygiene trenches.
Kid movies and soundtracks on repeat. This is a tough one for my husband to get past sometimes because he is a total music junkie and thinks that kid music is a special form of torture. We still aren’t mentally prepared for Frozen 2 to come wreck our lives without an adequate break from the wreckage that the original caused. But you power through for the smiles, the dance parties, and the family minivan sing-alongs. Years from now we will hear “Let it go” and long for the days when we could turn our kids’ moods around with a single song. I hear the middle school and high school days require lots of cash and vehicles for mood busting.
How many important requests will they have tonight? A drink, a trip to the bathroom, a hangnail, a mysterious achy leg, a missing stuffed animal (one of 837). Perhaps an itchy back? Something super important that happened at school that couldn’t have been discussed in the 4 hour window before now? Just one more run down on the activities of each day for the remainder of the week? The gap between when you put them to bed and when they actually fall asleep can be minutes or hours, but if you’re looking to get the bow-chicka-now-now going with your spouse you can bet that it will be on the longer end of the spectrum. There’s just no way around it, they can sense when you need some bedroom escapades and their only mission is stop it. And that, my friends, is the final and most important reason that I will be overjoyed when my kids put themselves to bed.
So say what you want about all of the things we complain about as parents. I can see how most of them will be fond memories of simpler times, but I can tell you one thing. I will NEVER miss bedtime.