When I pictured bedtime in a large (ish) family, I pictured clean-smelling kids, matching pajamas, smiling faces and quiet prayers. I thought of reminiscing in whispered tones over the day's events, heavy eyelids gradually closing as I sang lullabies...
In reality, our house is awash in chaos at night. Maybe one in four smells good, jammies are a redneck mismatch of too short pants and long sleeved t- shirts from varying museums and national parks, faces are often contorted in pleas for salvation from the horror of bed, and prayers are mixtures of, "Be quiets" and "My turns!" Eyelids rarely close by choice and any lullabying is drowned out by crying and flip-flopping (the boys are like dogs and have to circle their sleep location before settling in for the night.)
But, it's OK. I have some plans to make it a bit more relaxing. My new seven to seven rule means everyone in bed at seven, regardless of who napped when...if you're not sleepy, grab a cuddle toy and a book and dig in. There will be no more drinks at bedtime--too many midnight sheet changes lately...
And you will not come out of your room until seven in the morning (your alarm clock will tell you.) If you come out between seven and seven, it has to be an emergency. If it is not, you will be swiftly whisked back to your bed, no discussion. Bad dream and illness exceptions will be made (but I'm not going to mention this up front I don't think.)
And honestly, this time in our lives is so fleeting, that all the chaos is kind of funny so I try to remember that despite my dashed expectations. Scott and I always end up laughing when we see Caden in his redneck tank top running down the hall, belly hanging out, or glimpse Wyatt's brown feet protruding out from the blanket after a hard day in the dirt...it's not that I want to crack down too much and end this parade of joy...it's that I'd like to be able to enjoy these little ones a bit more during the day...and the endless nights prohibit that, ya know?
Anyway, I'm still figuring out this mothering thing, but I do still like the figuring out process..and I'm honored to do it...I know I'm making some blunders and I know there are many things I could be doing better, but I'm their mom, who's doing the best I can, and I'm praying that's good enough. :)
Bedtime is NOT what I pictured it would be before I had children, but I know that when we put them down in bed at night, and kiss their contorted little faces, and brush the hair back from their sad little eyes while we pray for them, they are learning that even when they are sad, we will make them do what is best for their little bodies and souls...and I will always be there for them...even if it's a room away, safe in their daddy's arms...because they need to know that mommy loves them, but mommy will not let the whims of four children under the age of six CONTROL THE WHOLE HOUSEHOLD. Amen.