That's It. Everyone to Bed.

I just sent my children to bed early for, I admit, some relatively minor infractions. Stealing each other’s places on the couch. Having to be asked not just once, but twice or three times, to do or not do something. And then the straw that broke Mama Camel’s back: goofing around during prayer. I didn’t yell (that came a few minutes later when Sister and AJ were fighting over a blanket). I didn’t lose my cool. I just said: "That’s it. Everyone to bed." I was *so* done for the night.

We often sing our bedtime prayer. That’s partly because I like to sing, and partly because I find singing a much easier way to pray than speaking a listless formula, or coming up with something spiritually rich when I’m exhausted and my brain has long since turned to mush. It’s also because, so far, my kids don’t really seem to enjoy traditional forms of prayer, but they will sit still for songs. Sometimes.

We have talked many times before about being peaceful during prayer, and yet, I’m sure from their perspective, tonight’s early bedtime was abrupt and unexpected. They don’t register, the way I do (whether consciously or unconsciously), the tidal wave of small aggravations that begins, usually, around six o’clock in the morning and ends only when all of them are finally asleep. The disputes and arguments; the complaints; the willful or even not-so-willful disobedience. This is not to say that the days are not also peppered with moments of humor, generosity, kindness, extreme cuteness, and the like. But somehow, the arguments and whining, the constant reminders, the boundary-testing, wear on me more than any amount of cute kid stuff can soothe, and by the end of the day, I am truly out of patience and energy (hmmmmmm....... I’m thinking this post can count as a Confession).

I tell myself this is normal. I tell myself this is especially normal for moms who are with their kids all day every day every week every month every year. The twenty-four-seven-ness of it is part of what’s hard about parenting, and parenting well (or well enough).

And yet, tonight I can’t give myself a break. I feel guilty for cutting short our prayer and sending them all to bed. I can sense, and indeed can understand, their bewilderment. I feel bummed that the day ended on a not-so-good note.

This is a hard business, this raising children to adulthood. I am going to go get a good night’s sleep and start again in the morning, with an ever-growing appreciation of the patience, persistence, and effort required to be even just a good-enough mother. Makes me want to give all the moms out there (dads, too) a thumbs-up; a “keep on trucking;” a reminder that our standard for ourselves should be progress, not perfection; a peaceful, reverent, prayer-song that starts like this: The sun’ll come up tomorrow.

(Come on, all you 80s kids, sing it with me now.......).

No comments: