This evening, while cleaning up the dishes, I was listening to the kids downstairs. They were supposedly doing their bedtime stuff. I say supposedly because it sounded suspiciously like raucous playtime instead of what I have in my mind to be the optimum quiet of the plodding bedtime ritual. I would much prefer a serene, calm routine, whereas they tend to ramp things up as the clock ticks on.
I shook the suds from my hands and walked to the basement door, calling down that they were supposed to be getting ready for bed. And they were! Amazing. In their own, really, really noisy way, they were doing exactly what I'd asked them to do. Kitchen duty continued.
I looked at my watch and saw that it was 7:35. Exactly 5 minutes after I really like to have them in bed, lights-out. I sighed, and waited to feel that sense of inadequacy I often feel at the end of the day, especially a long one, filled with errands, soccer practices, a late dinner, all while flying solo (Adam being at one of the many later-evening things here at the end of the school year).
The feeling didn't come. I realized that if I was honest with myself (and really, shouldn't we always be honest with ourselves, why lie? Deep down, we'll always know.), I'd tell myself that the light almost always goes off at 8:00, not the imaginary pipe-dream time of 7:30, the time I typically tell friends and the pediatrician when they ask. Sure I'd love to have 7:30 be lights-out, but it's not, not hardly ever, and so why stress myself out, guilt-tripping myself into believing the lies that I am inadequate, less of a mom, and surely depriving my kids of that extra 30 minutes of sleep so that they will most surely not graduate on to the next grade level.
So, I relaxed my jaws (because, for whatever reason, clinching jaws are the first signs of stress in this here mama) and finished those dishes. I even wiped the table, something that is often forgotten until the next morning.
I walked downstairs, helped with the last things, picked up spare clothes and books, fluffed pillows and prayed with the kids. Kisses and hugs. Sweet dreams.
And, yep! it was exactly 8:00pm when those lights went out.