My kids fight over me at bedtime.
Every. Single. Night.
Jeff and I alternate nights with the kids, one night he reads and snuggles with Cam and I read and snuggle with Kenzie and vice versa the next night. The conversation every night is the same, one of them GETS Mommy and the other is STUCK WITH Daddy. This defies logic to me. Jeff is a VERY involved parent, he’s tender and nurturing, he’s really fun, he’s mindful and present with them and they both lose their ever-loving minds when he gets home in the evening. Also, THEY HAVE SPENT ALL STINKING DAY WITH ME!!! You’d think they would want a change of pace! But nay, at bedtime Daddy is a distant second runner up to Mommy, Pageant Queen of Bedtime.
On the surface, it sounds completely adorable. I mean, they BOTH want to snuggle Mommy!
But if I’m being perfectly honest, most days it actually makes me feel resentful. The entire day in this house consists of me doing things for the kids. And Kenzie is two and a half so most times she cannot decide which is the greater injustice, the fact that she can’t do things herself or the fact that I help her with them. Either way she’s throwing a fit while I’m trying to do something for her that I would rather not be doing anyway.
One or the other of them COUNTING ON THEIR NIGHT WITH ME ends up feeling less like a sweet blessing and more like yet another demand on me that I can’t get out of no matter how tired and worn out I may be. I am not kidding, I have been sick and throwing up and poor Jeff was having to deal with a meltdown because SOMEBODY DIDN’T GET THEIR NIGHT WITH MOMMY.
You know what I feel like would happen if I told this story on Facebook? I feel like the comment section would IMMEDIATELY fill up with well-meaning folks saying things like,
“Oh, enjoy it while you can! They grow up so fast!”
“Oh, you don’t know how lucky you are! I would give anything for my big ol’ high schoolers to want me to snuggle them at bedtime!”
To be fair, there is more than just kernel of truth in those statements. As a matter of fact, those very thoughts are a part of my inner monologue each night as I labor through bedtime and wonder why I’m not enjoying the sweetness of the jammy-wearing book-reading more (the mom guilt, man. It’s real).
But, here’s the thing: Beating ourselves up for not enjoying the moments more is not only unhelpful, it’s counterproductive.
The fact is that I’m not resentful at bedtime because I’m a selfish, unappreciative person, I’M RESENTFUL AT BEDTIME BECAUSE I AM TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN THE WEEDS RIGHT NOW AND I’M PLUM WORE OUT.
This is less about “Goshdarn me for not appreciating this moment,’ and ENTIRELY about “Bless my heart for being too darn tired to appreciate this moment.”
I don’t think there is a single one of us who is not aware of how precious our children are and how lucky we are to be their mom. For my part, I spent an entire decade of adulthood wishing and hoping and dreaming of being a mommy before God saw fit to make it happen and I appreciate every day that He did. We also all know how quickly life flies by- I turn forty on my next birthday. FORTY! I’m pretty sure I was in college YESTERDAY!
But, like, it’s STILL hard, man. And while it definitely seems like SHOULD feel heavenly to always have two precious children climb up on me EVERY SINGLE TIME I lay down on the couch, most times it just doesn’t. I’m tired and they’ve been in my space all day and when I just want to lay down and rest by myself for a minute to charge my battery and THERE THEY ARE AGAIN- it’s just not heavenly.
But you know what I’ve noticed? When I am honest with myself about how HARD it is and how TIRED I am, it somehow becomes easier. When I let the struggle see the light of day and acknowledge the realness of it, it suddenly becomes easier to manage and I start to feel more blessed and appreciative for the good things about the moment.
It’s when I’m busy trying to pretend that bedtime with my kids is the coziest and most relaxing thing EVER that I end up discovering that I’m miserable. When I chide myself with jabs about how I’ll feel when they’re gone at college and would wish these moments back, that’s when the shame creeps in and it seems to much worse.
But when I take minute and let myself say, “MAN, the days are long, no wonder I’m so tired at bedtime every day,” it becomes much easier to release the resentment and notice how cute Kenzie looks in her Wonder Woman jammies (especially when she runs at top speed into the kitchen, jumps emphatically into her father’s sightline and sings loudly, “WUNDER WIMMEHHHHHHHN!!!!)
So, this is still #IseeYouMama month and so there’s homework, Because I know I am not the only one struggling with this and I SEE YOU, MAMA!!!!
- For yourself: Next time you catch yourself in a moment where you or someone else tries to tell you that you should be enjoying the mommy moment more, cut yourself some slack. Spend some time looking around and trying to identify the circumstances that are making it hard for you to enjoy the moment, look them in the face, name them as hard, and tell the voice that’s giving you hard time to SHUT IT! Bonus points if you tell someone else about it. I can tell Jeff when I’m tired, he doesn’t feel like I’m guilting him because we both know what will happen if he tries to do bedtime with both kids and NEITHER of us want that fallout.
- For Someone Else: Next time you see someone complaining on social media about being a tired mom, show up for her and tell her YES! It is hard! Even if you feel the urge to offer her the sage wisdom of experience and tell her she should appreciate the moment more, don’t do it. It’ll likely heap on the mom guilt she’s already feeling. Instead, acknowledge the truth behind what she’s saying, tell her it IS hard, validate her in that moment…she’ll probably find it easier to appreciate those things you’re hoping she won’t miss.
Be kind to yourself and others this week.