Bedtimes around our house lately do not look anything like this picture. In fact, moments like the one pictured feel so rare these days, which is why I tried to capture the peace and quiet in picture form. I got the creative writing bug the other day and decided to try and capture what our evenings have looked like lately.
***Disclaimer: The following short story is not meant to be alarming and is not some attempt at an online cry for help. I do realize that this stage of life is brief and while bedtimes might be especially intense and wearing at times, there are plenty of heart-full moments through out the day and plenty of great moments with my children. That being said, you may now read on. 🙂
Battlefield 8 p.m.
“Come over here Cameron Bridger,” I said, my tone sharpening by the third time. He swayed his body and made sounds as if he were in pain.
“I don’t want to go to bed,” he whined. He grimaced and then collapsed onto the floor. I rolled my eyes.
“Come over here Cameron Bridger, it’s time for bed.” We were an hour and thirty minutes into the nightly dance. Each time I felt as if the night were coming to a close, he erupted in anger or energy or both. I softly told him it was time to brush his teeth and as soon as it rolled off of my tongue he rolled to the floor like dry ice pouring out of a cauldron. No matter how many exciting things we’d done that day he had never seen enough, never tasted enough, never had enough. He could never give in to the fact that it was now dark outside and the day’s adventures had come to a close. As long as he could find a light switch there was still adventure to be had.
She, on the other hand, lay snugly in her blanket, eyes wide, not making a sound. Her protest was due to begin soon. Her eyes shifted back and forth, trying to find something to explain all the commotion. She gripped her hands together and twiddled her fingers before trying to shove both fists into her mouth in one sudden movement.
He screeched for someone to come lay with him and bed.
She then shrieked for someone to come pick her up.
My dinner sat quietly on the table, cold and aloof.
I glanced at my husband. His eyes told me that he would help however was needed. I looked back and forth between the child laying on the floor in the doorway to his bedroom and the smaller one in her tiny bassinet. My patience had run out four hours earlier so my choice would be for him to get both to sleep while I curled up on the far side of our bed with a remote and a glass of something sharp.
Each evening my husband and I had conversations with our eyes because with actual words we were constantly interrupted His told me that I was doing a great job and reminded me that it would not always be like this. My eyes questioned his sincerity by asking if we would ever spend time alone together again. His eyes answered back, ‘yes’ and so we split off once again, each with one of our children, trying to coerce them to sleep so we could have a few moments together before we had to retire ourselves.
On some nights it worked, but on most it didn’t. It had only been three months since she’d been born. Sometimes it felt like just yesterday and other times I felt as though my husband and I were nearing a mature age. We’d gone on our first date in six months just two weeks earlier. That day had been so frazzled for me that as he escorted me to dinner I smeared on some lip gloss, hoping to detract from the yoga pants and muddy tennis shoes that accompanied my plain face and greasy hair. He was just happy to finally be on a date with me. I was just unhappy that I looked exactly like I had twelve hours earlier when I awoke as I did on our so-called date.
We chatted through dinner, mostly about how it felt so strange to actually be alone and I ordered a single bowl of clam chowder because my yoga pants seemed to disqualify me from the seared pork chop and potatoes. A girl on a date in yoga pants and a pony tail is probably worth about as much as a bowl of clam chowder and maybe a slice of sourdough, or at least that’s how it felt.
Sometimes I longed for more free time like I once had. We used to cook dinners together and stay up late watching whatever new series was on and talking about how one day it would be so great to have babies…we used to kiss a lot and eat slow dinners full of conversation. But then again, life felt meaningful. In moments of clarity when I was drinking a hot cup of coffee I knew that it was all worth it. My babies were worth it.
From down the hall I could hear the clatter of toys as the older one dumped out his toy bin all over the floor. Seconds later the baby went off like an alarm. My husband swooped in and pick up the baby, walking her around while I slowly made my way down the dark hallway to the toddler who held onto a ruler and swung it around like a sword. I squinted my eyes and prayed that he might just fall over into a deep sleep so that I didn’t have to put in so much effort to calm him down.
By 9:30 both babies were sleeping so I brushed my teeth slowly then crawled in next to the older one for a moment just because I suddenly missed him. I breathed in deep, smelling his hair and trying to store the sweet smell in my memory bank. The little one was sleeping hard, arms out at wing span, eyes darting around beneath her eyelids. Something within me missed their loud voices and cries. Something else within me told the other part of me that I was crazy.
As I slipped under the covers next to my husband his eyes told me that it wasn’t always going to be like this. My eyes agreed with his and that thought somehow brought me relief and sorrow both at the same time. Someday 8 p.m. would be quiet and I will be wishing that I could fit back into my yoga pants and rock and fussy baby to sleep.
I closed my eyes and tried not to think about waking up in a few hours for her first feeding.