Evenings are crazy, am I right? Hurry home from work, hurry and make dinner, hurry and play, hurry and baths, hurry and bedtime, and hurry to get the house picked up before exhaustion sets in and you crash. And I’m not even running kids to and from activities yet! Sheesh, I’m tired just writing that!
In our house, I put my 21-month-old (Kate) to bed and my husband puts my 3.5-year-old (Lucy) to bed. It’s at least an hour with each kid by the time books are read, prayers are said, songs are sung, cuddles are had and they finally fall asleep. And yes, we usually stay with the girls until they fall asleep.
Not very often, but sometimes, Lucy asks me to put her to bed. I sigh and usually try to pawn her back off on daddy. I know what you’re thinking and I agree with you: that makes me sound like an absolutely terrible parent. But if I put my 1-year old and my 3-year-old to bed, we’re talking 2+ hours of bedtime routines in an evening where time is already limited. It’s not that I don’t want to put both of my kids down for bed – because I think that time is so special. But when my husband is putting Lucy down, it’s the only time of day I get to pick up the house, catch up on work, or fold several loads of laundry while I mindlessly watch a rerun of Last Man Standing. Damn that mom guilt!
Monday night, I had just finished putting Kate down when I popped in to say good night to Lucy. As I headed downstairs to clean the catastrophe left over from our busy weekend I heard Lucy say, “Daddy, did you put me to bed last day?” (Last day: her sweet reference for anything that’s happened in the past.) I knew what was coming.
I had barely made it downstairs when I heard the pitter patter of little feet over the sound of running water that I had JUST turned on to begin dishes. I turned around to see Lucy with her hands behind her back and a big smile on her face. “Mommy! YOU get to put me to bed tonight! Daddy put me to bed last day and you get to put me to bed tonight!”
I sighed and looked around at my kitchen in shambles and back to my smiling 3 year old who was so excited to tell me that I get to put her to sleep tonight. So on to hour number two of bedtime I went: we brushed teeth, went potty, read books and snuggled.
As I laid cuddled up next to her as she drifted off to sleep, I began thinking about what she said: Mommy, you GET to put me to sleep – like she was giving me a gift. Like I was the lucky winner that night. And boy, was she right. I’ve been specially chosen by my Creator to care for and love this sweet little soul and I GET to put her to sleep. Wow.
There are a lot of things I get to do as a parent. I GET to fight with her every morning about brushing her hair. I GET to listen to her whine at dinner every night about how she doesn’t like whatever is on her plate. I GET to break up the fights that are already happening between my children. And while I sometimes (i.e. often) get overwhelmed with all these things I “get” to do, I sure wouldn’t change a thing.
I also “get” lots giggles, kisses, love, and tickles. I “get” to experience the feeling of pure joy that I didn’t even know existed until I had kids. I “get” so much from my girls that if I think about it too much, my chest begins to tighten and my eyes fill with tears because I am overwhelmed with all they give me. There are a lot of people who would give anything to “get” to do some of these things I that I sometimes take for granted, and I’m so thankful my children remind me daily, in their own sweet ways, just how lucky I am.
Does this mean that I’ll never push her bedtime back onto daddy? Heck no – I’ve got to keep my sanity! (Judge if you want, can’t blame you.) But I’ll certainly be more conscious of “getting” to put her to bed and enjoying these precious moments. Lord knows it goes too fast.
Oh and by the way, my rockstar husband cleaned the entire main floor of our house while I “got” to put my 3 year old to bed. Yep, I’m pretty lucky and my life is pretty darn good.