This Evening was Unusual.
My 2-year old had skipped her nap and needed to go to bed early. She and her big sister both share a room, so I knew we would have to sneak big sister in at bedtime. Normally, we follow a nice routine. Jammies, shake our sillies out with a quick game (head shoulders knees and toes, the hokey pokey, Simon says), teeth brushed, read books, set the diffuser, turn on the white noise machine, and then they finally drift off. Well, the situation as it was, we had to skip a couple of those steps in order to avoid waking up the toddler.
This did not go over well.
“I need my sister to sleep”
“We need to read”
“Please turn on the lights”
I knew that if I stayed any longer I would lose my temper. It had been a long day, and I was ready for them to be asleep. So I quickly said goodnight and left. Ten minutes later I was summoned from the top of the stairs. “Mom!” I call back for her to go to sleep. She retreats back to her room for another few minutes, then I hear in a very quiet shaken voice: “Mom… I just need you.” What can I say to this? The evenings are MY time. I need to catch up on my projects, fold laundry, put the dishes in the dishwasher, and maybe just soak up some silence. So what do I do?
I took a deep breath, shook off the annoyance, and quickly headed upstairs.
Climbing into the bottom bunk of the bed, I ask her why she is having a difficult time sleeping. She whispers back to me, “Me and my sister like to talk before we sleep. I miss her. I just need you now to help me sleep. Can we talk a teeny bit?” So we settle in and talk about her day. We shared a lot of “I love you”s, discussed the current drama with her imaginary friends, and then she described to me in great detail why she will never like the “gross green spheres (brussel sprouts) you and daddy ate for dinner”. She requested a backrub, a cuddle, and then promptly fell asleep.
I came downstairs bleary-eyed from the darkness to light. I checked the clock. Almost an hour of my precious alone time had been lost. Weirdly, it didn’t really matter anymore.
So why am I sharing this boring moment from my life?
Because my evening didn’t go as planned, but I chose to embrace the situation. I could have fought her for hours telling her to go back to bed, dealing with tears, tantrums, and a million potty trips. But instead, I was as able to share some lovely one on one time with my oldest daughter. With three young children, it’s often difficult to be able to divide time and give them the individual attention they deserve. Do I want to do this every night? Definitely not. But I know that my chores I had planned to accomplish this evening can certainly wait until tomorrow.
In my experience, this is often how life works. Especially when you have children. Instead of resisting and fighting these small details, sometimes we need to accept them and just roll with it. There are lessons to be learned, moments to be experienced, and memories to be made when we leave the overscheduled and super practical behind. So next time life throws a mini curve in your day, try to make the best of it. Take a breath and see where this inconvenience will take you. It may just end up being the highlight of your week, or a memory that your children will carry for a lifetime.