Raising children is milestones and the moments in between. A baby’s first smile. A baby’s first step. A baby’s first word. Milestones can be precious and exciting, albeit bittersweet. When a “first” happens, it is a sign that they really are growing up. The baby milestone is now in the past. It is a beautiful time.
But then there are other milestones that are not as magical.
For example, there is the night when your toddler learns how to climb out of their crib. As a Mom, you are laying there, licking the wounds of the day, ready to watch an infinitely more loaded episode of Vanderpump Rules (now that Scandavol has broken the internet). And then you hear what sounds like furniture being toppled while two little toddler roommates scream with delight. The two-year-old has escaped her nighttime sanctuary, finally achieving a new level of freedom.
But it is bedtime. And normally your angels go to sleep in a surprisingly stress-free manner. But tonight, in lieu of peaceful silence, there are only sounds of destruction. What have you done wrong in this life to warrant this level of punishment?
You then go into their room SEVENTEEN times in the next hour and a half. You patiently instruct the girls to stay in their beds. You negotiate with promises of prizes to stay in their beds. You plead with them to stay in their beds. You loudly say, “Stay in your beds.” You scream, “Stay in your beds!” You screech “STAY IN YOUR BEDS!!!!!!”
You take deep breaths on the walk down the hallway to your bedroom. Thoughts such as “This too shall pass,” “I am not a bad mother,” “I would never ever want to work as a childcare giver,” “Why does my husband work offshore?” and “I am so grateful that DVR exists” pass through your mind.
Not yet to the bedroom door, you hear the sound of falling books. Despite your efforts, the normally well-behaved little girls are not in their beds. They are very awake, ripping apart their room, shelf by shelf.
You turn around to address the defiance once again. You hold the youngest, the ringleader of this chaos, close to having a “serious talk.”
You look into the face of a beautiful blonde squishy toddler who sees through your imposter syndrome mask. You are just a thirty-seven-year-old run-down woman who is “over it” past 7:00 PM. You are no beacon of wisdom, patience, or perseverance. You are taller but are not sure if you have the stamina to compete with a two-year-old who dreams of exploring what nighttime is like when they are not confined to tall cage-like walls. She knows that the stuffies you are removing from her bed as punishment will re-emerge as that was an on-sale Mary Meyer elephant. She knows that you love her so much that even if she spits into your Sprite at a Mexican restaurant (like her older sister did earlier that day) you will ultimately forgive her. And continue to drink your Sprite. She senses the defeat. And she is going to continue to use the laundry basket as a stool to achieve access to the vintage Precious Moments porcelain figurines that once elegantly decorated her nursery. She is making an educated bet that she is winning this battle tonight.
And she is not wrong.
At 8:30, there is no longer a laundry basket, stool, stuffies, or picture frame in the room. No parental victory here. You ran out the clock instead.
Another milestone down. We officially have a new record for the worst bedtime ever in the history of my motherhood.
Fortunately, Daylight Savings Time was three days away. You know, the day when parents of toddlers can relax extra.
Y’all, it has been a week. Here’s hoping that the next milestone is more magical.