Those Hours Before Bedtime (You Know the Ones)


July 15, 2013 by Julia

I’m a morning person, so getting up around 6:30 am with the kids is not a horrible problem for me, especially since we can usually afford to stay in our pajamas for a while, and because I know my coffee and cereal are coming shortly. I might be dragging a bit, but the first sight of Jack or Fiona in the morning is sweet, and they’re so happy to see me, too. We’re snuggly as we wake up.

But no matter how good our day has been, even if – like today – it was productive and I made decent mothering choices and it was scattered with moments of fun – a time comes that usually breaks me down. That time is from around 4:30-7:00 or so. Sounds dramatic, I know. I don’t mean a serious mental breakdown. I’m talking about hitting a wall of exhaustion and discouragement. It’s the realization that Jack will be up from his nap soon, and I am about ready to nap. It’s the reality of making dinner and cleaning up dinner and knowing that half of what I make for the kids will end up going down the disposal – maybe that same night, or a week later after sitting untouched in the fridge. It’s the feeling that no one cares or even notices how much straightening and cleaning I do a thousand times over each day. It’s the moment that a drop of hot bacon grease from the dinner I’m cooking shoots onto my eyelid and it hurts pretty bad, and suddenly I’m crying about everything, and I’m a hideous-looking failure and there are a million things I want to write about but I’m going to end up writing another Mothering is Hard post again, I just know it. And Being a Person is hard and we are all broken and repeat the same crap even though we know better, because at the end of the day it doesn’t always matter how much we know – we are still going to have days of screwing up and self-loathing.

And I don’t really think we ever change all that much.

I mean, when I was twelve I said to my parents, “I’m going to write my memoir and call it ‘Life With the Fam: A Tragedy by Julia Thurston.’” Doesn’t that sound like something I’d write now, at thirty-four years old?

I still laugh at that title, and I still appreciate the morbid humor, and I think “Now there’s a twelve-year-old I’d converse with!” …but that’s only because it was me and I’M BASICALLY THE SAME PERSON. I’m more mature and less sensitive and my politics have changed, but other than that…yeah, pretty much the same. These are the thoughts that run through my head as I put the fucking alphabet magnets back on the fucking refrigerator for the fifth-fuckteenth time and it’s depressing and WHY EVEN BOTHER??? And then I collapse on the kitchen floor, which I’ve already written about.

This is supposed to be about that hard time of day, though.  You know, it’s only two and half hours of pure misery. That’s average, right? Just kidding – it’s not pure misery. It’s mixed up with a bunch of other things, too. But the screaming, or whining, or whatever it is that day, suddenly begins to irritate me more than usual, even if I was able to deal with it at 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and maybe even 1:30 p.m. I am either numbly battling my way through the stuff of housewivery, going through the motions like a resentful marionette, or I have given up. And then at 7:30 Dennis takes the kids upstairs to start bedtime rituals (I do mornings, he does bedtime), and once our evening has begun it’s like a reset button is pushed. Oh, life is worth living again! Let’s see what’s on the DVR! Or go to the bathroom with the door closed! Woo-hoo! While we’re at it, let’s look at adorable pictures of our precious children and talk about them and everything they did today that made us laugh. Ha ha ha ha! Fiona asked, “Daddy, what if you had an eyebrow on your chin?” Oh, what wonderful lives we lead!

Yep. That about sums it up. Wonder/tired/cute/gratitude/pretend to stab myself in the jugular/crazy crazy yell/cuddle/love love oh man we love you AND SCENE.

Shoot, I really wanted to write about how we camped this past weekend. Time to go bang my head against the wall and mutter, “Failure! Failure! Failure!”

Here’s a gross picture of me while camping, doing a trial run of what bedtime in the tent will be like. Let’s forget that part for the moment and just analyze my grossness. The angle and shirt and actual flab make me look slightly pregnant (I am not). My hair is flattened by sweat and frizzed by humidity. My arm looks like a mom arm. My chin is fleshy. I look like I have given up caring, not an ounce of energy left for a healthy bit of vanity. The end.

But the situation is pretty cute. Just look at those sleeping bags. I do have a great life! I will write about the full camping experience soon. I hope you can survive until then. By the way, never buy Yellow Tail Shiraz Cabernet. I’m trying to choke it down right now because it’s all I have in the house, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Could be the orange juice I had earlier, though. Ruined my palate.

Tomorrow is a new day!


6 thoughts on “Those Hours Before Bedtime (You Know the Ones)

  1. Emmie S. says:

    Throw the alphabet letters away! Throw them away! I did and it made me happier. They are off to destroy the earth in a landfill and my children will never learn their letters ;-), but my feet will never come in contact with their spikey sides again and that is why I feel triumphant.

    • Julia says:

      I packed them up once and Fiona acted like I was tearing her heart in two! But enough is enough! At least our alphabet-deprived, illiterate children will have each other.

  2. We started calling it “the witching hour” when Jude was a baby. He’d always have a meltdown right after I put dinner on the table, as soon as I sat down to eat. But you’re so right, it does last more like 2-3 hours! Wine definitely helps.
    Also, you look just fine in that picture!

  3. Carmen Mulhern says:

    In a couple of years, your post about 4-7 PM will be all about homework trials, how to have two kids at activities that start at the same time (and always during the dinner hour) and suggestions for what to make for your kids to eat that can run out the door with you on a paper plate! Each of these phases pass so quickly. I certainly will not tell you to enjoy them because that is impossible, but appreciate them because all too soon, they are gone. Oh, and you will still have that glass of wine. You just won’t get to pour it until about 9PM!

    • Julia says:

      Oh, I do worry about the homework! Maybe 4-7 is just a hard time for most people, regardless of whether it’s at home with kids or at work. And with Jack, I do fear that this endearing toddler phase might go by too quickly. I don’t want him to grow any older. Funny how with your first child, you’re so excited to see them hit all the milestones, and then with the second, you just want them to stay babies! Thanks for your comment, Carm – you have my utmost respect!

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