When they get home from school at their respective times (Thing 2 is only half day) I am happy to see them and have genuinely missed them. Its kisses, hugs and stories of the day all around; I'm a regular June Cleaver.
By dinner I begin to break down. The pressure of homework, breaking up arguments, monitoring screen time and listening to The Things bitch and moan about dinner starts to weigh me down. I'm still (mostly) patient and loving but there is an edge to my voice. Thank you sweet Jesus that Hot Jeff is home by this time in the evening and I have someone to help get the 101 things that need to be done in the 2 short hours between 5-7 done.
And then it happens. Without fail. Every. Single. Night.
Friends, its hard for me to explain what happens at 7:00pm but it looks kind of like this. I go from this:
The goal is to head upstairs at 7 so Thing 2 is in bed by 7:30 and Thing 1 is in bed and reading from 7:30-8. As The Things' bedtime rolls around and its time to head upstairs and start brushing teeth, getting pajamas on, saying prayers and shutting out lights I become a crazy monster. I am unrecognizable even to myself. Any half ounce of patience I had left over from the day is shredded along with my shirt. Grace and kindness is swallowed up by my roar. Every single thing outside of silent obedience pisses me off; it doesn't matter if its simply shooting a basket with dirty socks into the laundry hamper or defiantly ignoring me and doing their own thing. In fact, "pisses me off" is inaccurate because truthfully, I just get pissed at 7pm for no good reason. If the kids are home and need to be put to bed--I'm pissed.
Most nights, I'd say 6 out of the 7 nights, I can seethe my way through without blowing up. I bite my tongue. I use a sugary, syrupy voice that they know is phony baloney but prefer to screaming at the top of my lungs. I close my eyes and count to 10. I remember while the days may be long the years are short and these bedtime routines are passing before my very eyes and I shove down my insane, selfish anger and I pray blessing over those babies like its my last night on Earth with them.
On that 6th night though...
I lose it. I yell from the first second they ignore my exhortation to head upstairs until the last god-forsaken, effing minute I storm out of their bedrooms threatening them with 6 weeks of hard time if they even so much as ask for a drink of water.
Tonight was that night.
After a wonderful evening of reading together, being silly and having a dinner no one cried over I cheerfully (really cheerfully) told Thing Two to head upstairs to get her pajamas on and her teeth brushed. I told her either Daddy or I would be up in just a couple of minutes to assist.
You see, they were starting to get pretty hyped up right around 6:30 so I knew if we all went up together it was going to be a definite blood bath. So I took a deep breath and had Thing 1 start some quiet reading downstairs. Thing 2 dutifully went up and Hot Jeff followed but I'll be a freaking monkey's uncle if I didn't hear Hot Jeff up there riling her all up. They were wrestling and having a gay ol' time and I swear on my favorite pair of Spanx I almost exploded. Literally exploded. Like my head almost unattached itself from my shoulders and landed in the other room while my arms and legs kicked and wailed until they fell right off. "IT IS BEDTIME YOU A-HOLES. I WANT TO HAVE SOME PEACE AND QUIET. I WANT TO WATCH TV. I WANT TO BLOG. I WANT TO HAVE SEX. I DON'T WANT TO MOTHER ANYONE FOR 12 HOURS. GO. TO. BED."
At that point I was done. Done. Thing 1, who hadn't done anything wrong except still be awake, was sent upstairs to "play with your Father." Because "apparently its party time." Sarcasm dripped from my tongue at their Father's betrayal.
See how short my fuse was? After Hot Jeff got around to tucking them in, I stormed upstairs to grumble a goodnight. Know what I saw? Lights were back on and Thing 1 was clipping his toe nails and Thing 2 was out of bed and inspecting her beta fish.
For the love people. For the love. I screamed. Of course I did.
"Get in bed. You know this time of night is hard for me. You know I have no patience for disobedience. You know you are not supposed to get out of bed. GO TO BED." I stomped downstairs threatening no playdates for 2 weeks if I heard them even breathe loudly.
So here I am. Do I feel guilty? No. Should I? Probably. What's the solution to this nightly problem? I don't know.
I've tried reasoning with them; explaining that this is the time of day where Mommy has a hard time being gracious and kind. Patience is hard for Mommy at the end of the day so its their turn to show grace on me and be good listeners. It works about 6 out of 7 nights.
I've tried having Hot Jeff do the majority of the bedtime routine but he wearies of it after every night and I really do miss praying with them after a night or 2 off.
I've talked to my mentor about it. I've talked to God about it. I've read books and blogs about it. The only thing that has gotten better is that I've gone from 4 out of 7 nights to 6 out of 7.
I guess that's progress.
I think it boils down to me wanting to be perfect. I want to be the patient, gracious, kind Mommy 24/7 365. I'm not. I'm not even close.
Tomorrow morning I will tuck my tail between my legs and my hair behind my ears and I will look them both in the eye and tell them how sorry I am that I lost my cool with them. I will ask them to forgive me and they will and then they will mock me and my screamy voice until we're all in hysterics over our cereal (Thing 1 does an impressive impression of me). Love covers a multitude of sins. It sure does.
Can I get an amen?
Sadly, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are learning adults screw up and need forgiveness too. I wish they weren't learning it from me but so far I don't have a solution for my cray-cray, 7pm Hulk turning self. I will continue to pray and count to 10 and by God's redeeming grace I will be batting 7 for 7 by the time they decide they don't need to be tucked in at all and especially not by a raging lunatic.