In December of 2006 I brought home baby number two and our bedtime routine changed forever. Baby two was not an asshole, he was a regular little baby. He cried when he was hungry, or needed his diaper changed, the real difference became juggling two little people’s needs simultaneously.
Putting Jax to sleep with Kai wailing became my regular nightly dance. I felt so frustrated and anxious that our cozy, sweet time had turned into a shit show. How was I supposed to read to Jax and get him nicely snuggled into bed with Kai crying? I voiced my concern to Wizz who suggested in his nicest I’m-not-calling-you-a-moron tone, “Why don’t you just wait for Kai to be settled and then put Jax down?”
His proposal made me feel like a complete knob, as if I had lost all commonsense. Of course I should wait for the baby to chill out and then attempt our bedtime routine. I was so focused on getting Jax to sleep at a certain time, and amped up as a new mother of two that I couldn’t see the forest through the trees. I calmed down, began waiting for Kai to relax before I tucked Jax in, but the dance was not over. It was just beginning.
As the boys got older, bedtime resembled a cage match at WrestleMania. They felt 7 pm was the right time to get physical and unleash on each other. I was ecstatic. Who doesn’t want two hyped up boys, kicking the shit out of one another when they were supposed to be settling down. My role became that of a steer wrestler; I’d slap on a pair of Wranglers and get to tackling the two of them into their pajamas; squeezing them between my legs as I brushed their teeth, and wondering what the hell kind of bedtime routine I had established.
I still managed to read to them most nights out of sheer mom-guilt. It was the garbage I had to wade through to get to the reading that had me frazzled. I thought kids were supposed to be tired and worn-out at the end of the day. Au contraire mon frère.
What really blows my mind is how eleven and a half years into this gig our nightly regime can still be derailed. I have come to accept that the majority of nights will be hectic. They will require me to repeat six times “GET YOUR PAJAMAS ON.” I will have to tell them to brush their teeth, because if I don’t that is considered a get out of jail free card. I will have to ask them why they have not put their dirty clothes in the fucking dirty laundry bin and why the bathroom mirror is dripping with water. I still, after all these years, with children who are totally capable, have to keep them on task. I thought it was going to be different.
Every once in a while we go on a tear, where we snuggle into my bed, read a novel together and look like a family you see in the movies. A few of our favourites have been I Am Malala, Hatchet, and Shel Silverstein books. Then someone starts giggling at something in the book, or making fart jokes and it’s over.
I looked at Wizz last week while our kids were upstairs trying to break through the floor, and asked him how this bedtime routine came to be? “They broke us”, he said. “We are two old, broken down horses, with flies all over our faces.”
At least they stay put once they are finally in bed.
To the struggle!