Bedtime these days is such bullshit. I used to have a routine. In fact I like to have a routine, or at least I like to have the idea of a routine. That way, when nothing goes according to plan, I don’t get too upset because the plan wasn’t that rigid anyhow. But our routine is a fucking sham. Our loosely constructed string of events is pretty much only connected by the fact the same 5 people partake in something every night. It’s not a ritual. It’s not a routine. Pretty much after dinner at our house if a free for all these days. Sometimes I wrangle shit in at bedtime and sometimes I fucking don’t. It’s not for lack of trying.
When Oliver, my oldest, was a baby I was working part time and finishing college. I had a strict routine that created itself and Oliver was a perfect baby and adapted easily. He didn’t even wake when I transferred him from grandma’s lap to the car-seat to get him home nights. On days and nights when I didn’t work, we had dinner, baths, stories and bedtime and precisely the same time every night. I was the perfect example of having shit together. I was totally in control, I though. Really, I was just fucking lucky. Oliver was abnormally wonderful. He still is.
Then, along came Mad Dog Madeline – (or Madel). Sort of nicknamed after General Mattis because she kind of exhibits the same leadership qualities of being strong and understanding but will also kick your ass and make your life miserable. Ask her brothers and cousins. She is the only girl of 6 after all. Bath time, which was once a daily treat became an every other day event because the baby had to be tended to from 7 until 9:45 if we were lucky. The routine began to deteriorate when at 6 months we had to rock her to sleep while she screamed for 2 hours. It was tough, but we prevailed and after those first rough few months she would just put herself to bed. Yes, this happened for an entire year. She would kiss you goodnight and go to bed by herself. Without us asking her! Nap time too! Let me reiterate – NAP TIME TOO. I felt like I super-mom. She was abnormally wonderful. She still is.
In the mornings, before we would walk Oliver to the bus stop I would make the kids breakfast that they would eat together while I drank my coffee. I went to the grocery store on the same day every week and made dinner at the same time every night that I was home from work to do so. No one wants breakfast anymore, which is fine – I give them bananas and let them go on their way terrorizing one another. When I get the courage to go grocery shopping, which is usually when our dinner options are cereal or hotdogs, I immediately regret leaving the house. The two little ones can’t coordinate a fit, so it’s one and then the other the entire grocery trip. And I won’t leave because fuck that, we need food.
When Henry was born, Madeline was 18 months old. Luckily, she had a routine, I thought. And luckily Oliver is older and can help. Luckily, I thought to myself foolishly, I have mastered this parenting thing. HAHAHA… no. Someone told me when I was pregnant with Henry that if you have 3 kids you might as well have 6. I laughed because that’s fucking ridiculous right? It isn’t. It’s pretty true I think. Not that I know what it’s actually like to have 6 kids, but let me show you what our routine looks like now.
I can manage to cook dinner at the same time every day now, however there is not a single kid that will eat dinner. One or all of them choose to starve rather than eat what I made. They cry for bologna and fist fight at the table over a glass of water. The little one is a year old and can’t use a fork but he also prefers to just throw shit across the table at his siblings. Don’t you for one second think that I am just letting this happen. This is all happening as I am time-outing, punishing, reprimanding or taking food away from another one. No one eats. Me and the Whole Assed Hubby release them into the toy room so we can finish our meal.
Bath time is also a shit show. It used to be every other night or so – now I am lucky if I can get all three cleaned at the same time once throughout the week. Oliver is at the age where he despises being clean. When I ask if he took a shower, because I truly can’t remember, he always says yes. And I don’t really know whether it’s true or not because I don’t’ really know what damn day it is. The two little ones could take a bath together, except the second that one touches the other or looks at them funny the other kid screams. One gets water in their eye and cries or is too tired to even handle a bath.
I can get the baby to sleep within an hour if the other kids are complaining to dad that they aren’t tired at a reasonably low volume. That hardly ever happens. I put the middle one to bed and go and lock myself in with the baby. When I come out the middle one is having a dance party in the living room, the older one is eating Cheetos and Dad just looks at me, “She’s mean.” He says. Everyone cries hysterically as I usher them down the hall to what you think was certain doom but is actually only their fucking beds.
Sometimes the Little Mean Pink One comes out and sleeps on the couch because I don’t want to put her back in bed. Who cares. If it’s not a school night, I stop yelling at the big one to get back in bed after the 5th time and he will sleep on the couch too. He smells kinda funny because he stood in the bathroom with the water on but never actually got in the water. I don’t care. I snuggle them all – all 5 of us on the couch.
Bedtime is such bullshit.