Finding my kryptonite 

Putting my kids to bed is my kryptonite. I don’t claim to be supermom (try as I might) but if I were a superhero, I would be just as debilitated by a glowing rock formation as I am a mom by 8pm.

girls on bed

Somehow, no matter how fun our day or evening has been and no matter how great everyone’s mood is, when the clock strikes my children’s bedtime suddenly all my patience goes out the window.

Last Sunday was no different. We’d had a fun day with a big family brunch, gone for bike rides, spent time snuggling on the couch and enjoyed a delicious (take out) dinner. All signs pointed to a successful day, and an exhaustion-filled bedtime. Wrong. We made it through tooth brushing and putting on pajamas with little incident. We did a dramatic reading of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” through giggles.

And then, disaster. My two year old didn’t want to sleep in pajamas anymore. Meltdown. And my four year old couldn’t find her blanket with bumble bees on it. Meltdown. Nevermind that we had spent 15 minutes picking out which pajamas the two year old wanted to wear that night. And never mind that this prized bumble bee blanket hadn’t been seen, let alone remembered, in weeks. No, in that moment these were the battles my kids were going to pick. And, these were the meltdowns that reduced me from being the normal calm, patient, loving mama I am to being the exasperated one that ends the day on a fed up, sour note with my kids.

“I hate who I become at bedtime,” I told my husband. I was feeling particularly down in that moment, equating my response to our kids’ multitudes of stalling tactics to us going to bed angry. “The last thing they’re hearing from me is a reprimand or harsh voice.”

“So let it go,” he told me. “What kid WANTS to go to sleep?”

And in that moment, my attitude toward bedtime changed. He was right. (Yes honey, you were right.) What kid wants to go to sleep? None. Heck, until we had a newborn eight weeks ago, I didn’t want to go to sleep either. I’d stay up watching Friends reruns on the couch far past what should have been my bedtime for no reason other than not feeling ready to go to sleep. I was no different from my daughters, just thirty-someodd years later.

So, the next night when we put the kids to sleep and they started in with their meltdowns and stalling tactics, and ultimately stayed up too late, I reminded myself over and over that I can’t physically make them sleep. Instead of getting angry, I responded calmly and patiently, accepting that all I can do is set them on the right path and continue guiding them back to it when they lose their way. And you know what? Bedtime was easier. Much easier. On everyone. It doesn’t mean they miraculously went to sleep or that I wasn’t frustrated inside. They didn’t and I was. But my entire approach and disposition changed and the evening was less contentious all around.

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Bedtime has become a metaphor for a greater lesson in parenting. In any situation (bedtime or otherwise), all I can do as a parent is set my kids on the right path and respond lovingly when they stray. And, just like bedtime being easier, I can only hope that whatever future battle we’re picking is easier to deal with because I have learned to face my demons and recognize my kryptonite. After all, isn’t that half the battle anyway?

What’s your kryptonite? How do you face it?

Finding fairness

baby with frozen dollsProud to share another post published by Kveller!

As the sun set outside and bedtime encroached inside, I found myself sitting on the carpet in our living room, hugging a singing Elsa doll (when will “Let It Go” just go away?!). I was playing referee between my daughters, who were arguing–again–about whose turn it was to play with her.

Never mind that an identical Elsa doll (minus her clothes and crown) had been discarded in their bedroom minutes earlier. At this point, the Elsa doll in question sat in my lap–neutral territory–while my 2-year-old cried and my 4-year-old claimed that if her sister had the doll, it just wouldn’t be fair. And there I sat, reasoning with my girls about taking turns, sharing, and understanding each other’s feelings.

umbrellas“That’s not fair to me,” is a phrase I hear a lot from my older daughter. Whether it’s about how many toys she has versus how many her friend has, or how much one-on-one time she is getting with mommy versus her sister, my 4-year-old daughter has developed a keen sense of fairness. When she perceives something to be unfair, her eyes fill with tears, her little chin quivers, and her already squeaky voice goes up an octave or two as she exclaims, “But that’s not fair to me!”

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Finding the strength to let “it” go

Let it go. LET IT GO. These three simple words have swept Disneynation off its feet and given Adele Dazeem (yep, still funny) the best publicity of her career. For those without kids (or without movie watching kids, or living under a rock) “Let It Go” is one of the signature songs from the hit movie Frozen. But it’s also a good mantra for motherhood.

Babe with her favorite new Frozen dolls

Babe with her favorite new Frozen dolls

Before having kids, I was a great mom. Like, really great. That’s not to say I don’t try to achieve greatness (most days) now with two little ones. But, I’m a different mom now than I was then. Back then, I believed my kids would never order off a kids menu (ha!), they wouldn’t subsist for weeks at a time (despite my best efforts) on chicken nuggets and grilled cheese sandwiches (haha!), and that they wouldn’t watch TV as a distraction so I could get things done or take a fiver (ha… you see where this is going). But, that was then and this is now. And I have to let it go.

The truth is, I had those beliefs without living the reality. When belief and reality collided, my parenting philosophies got flipped upside down. Though I’ve tried to maintain the expectations my husband and I set for our selves and our future children all those years ago, I’ve also had to find the space to forgive myself when those, and plenty of other beliefs, got thrown out the window. Last week when our oldest daughter was home sick all week and we were watching Annie multiple times a day for 5 days, we had to let it go. When she asked for grilled cheese for dinner AGAIN tonight, we had to let it go. And this week, while I’m sick with a virus, pink eye and an ear infection (a mommy trifecta), my husband is doing the best he can to keep his head above water while I lay in bed wishing I could help, and I have to let it go.

Motherhood feels like a daily exercise in letting “it” go. The “it” changes depending on the circumstance but the message remains. It’s a good reminder that when that “perfect” Pinterest project goes horribly wrong… Let it go. Or when the well-planned afternoon outing gets stalled at the front door… Let it go. Or when whatever expectation we’ve constructed for ourselves, or let others construct for us, does a 180… Let it go. After all, at the end of the day raising kids isn’t about the “it.” Rather, it’s about laying a foundation of values, encompassed by love with a safety net close enough to provide comfort but wide enough to allow imaginations to soar. It’s about creating memories wherein the details may eventually become hazy but the emotions remain. It’s about letting “it” go and being all the better for it.

What’s an example of how you’ve let “it” go?

PS: You’re welcome for getting the song (back) in your head.