One of my goals for 2015 is to write more. Last year I kept my hand in writing with very sporadic blog posts, equally sporadic personal journal entries, novel writing, and Bible study notes, my ongoing Catholic Digest health column, some speech writing, and a fashion writing freelance project, but I didn’t write nearly as much as I would have liked. There are several reasons for my sparse writing. Firstly, life just keeps getting busier as my littles grow older. Secondly, I was delusional in thinking that the end of medical residency would mean cush hours for my hard-working husband. He works harder and longer than ever. This past weekend he worked what most people work in one week (40-plus hours in three days). During the week, he worked the five to midnight shift, which basically means I’m a single parent and in charge of the evening sports schlepping and managing the bedtime chaos. And I haven’t been managing it all that well, I’m afraid, especially last night when I absolutely lost it after two out of four children became desperately thirsty after I turned the lights off and was prepared to get them to drift off to Dreamland.
“You are NOT thirsty!” I screeched.
“I am! My throat hurts!”
“You had all that time [while I was getting another little one to bed] to get a drink,” I pointed out.
“I was coloring, and I wasn’t thirsty then.”
Of course you weren’t thirsty then. Or hungry. Or cold. You were probably so ready for bed you would have peacefully drifted off to sleep with nary a complaint then.
“Well,” I said. “It’s either me or a cup of water,” I patiently clarified.
Perplexed look from dehydrated child.
“You get a drink of water, and I leave you to go to sleep on your own.”
“Noooooooo!!!!” Horrible wailing ensued. Never mind the fact that I should probably leave a 5-year-old to fall asleep on her own every night. I am a bedtime wimp. Inconsistency is my trademark because the truth is, sometimes I like nothing more than to cuddle up next to a warm body and fall asleep beside a child. It reminds me of those co-sleeping, baby days. It’s wonderful. Sometimes. But there are other nights when I have four kids who are cranky and tired and all want Mommy to give them their full attention, but Mommy is desperate for alone time or just needs to fold heaps of laundry or shoot off a few emails or try to do that meditation lesson from Bible study. All I usually contemplate during contemplative prayer is when is someone going to interrupt me? Oh, wait. Here it comes. The dog barks at the cat, which wakes up the toddler who always wakes up with a voracious appetite. “I want breakfast, Mommy!” he demands with no, “Good morning!” whatsoever. What was I meditating on again? Ah, yes. Jesus feeding His sheep. I know all about that.
But back to bedtime (or lack thereof). If I believed reincarnation was a real thing, I would want to come back as a Wicker child at bedtime. Ahhhh...the cuddling, the magical stories read, the backrubs topped off with a prayer and a “God bless you,” and the one more cup of water request usually satisfied because these littles won’t be little for long (thank God, I said to myself last night), and then a little more cuddling. So much cuddling, in fact, that Mom can no longer fight Mr. Sandman and finds herself succumbing to a peaceful sleep next to the warm, little body curled up to her. Yet another reason very little writing happens. My 3-year-old’s bedtime name should be changed to Ambien. Well, I am in the midst of a lovely reverie (what dreams may come!) next to Ambien when Crazy, Older Kid storms in just to check on me. I wake up startled and remember that there are still three more kids to put down. “Put down” seems like the appropriate phrase at this point. I am ready to take drastic action because I am drunk with sleepiness and just am ready to write, read a good book, or do a few relaxing stretches, and go to bed. But more kids want stories read or another vespertine tête–à–tête. (One child always asks big, important questions as I’m tucking her in because she knows I have a soft spot for ponderous thoughts and soul searching.) These children will not be ignored. And I am also a sucker who hasn’t learned to ignore them. So the bedtime routine drags on and on and on…until I fall asleep once again, this time wedged in the middle of a pile of sugar and spice and everything nice, except when a sister annoys another sister and all you-know-what breaks loose, and I think, “There’s no curl on the head, but it’s true that when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.” Mr. Hyde looks like an angel now. They always do when they’re sleeping.
I am nearing the end of the epic bedtime grind when my 10-year-old asks, “Can you cuddle with me for just a bit?”
And I almost say, “No way, Jose.” But then I remember her name is Madeline, and she’s more than halfway to the point when she will leave me and I won’t have the option to cuddle beside her, so how can I say no? And when I’m next to her and she tells me she loves me, I realize I didn’t even want to say no. The writing can wait.