It seems that we have fallen into a pattern around here. A ritual of sorts. And it all starts around bedtime. Which, these dark and cold days, seems to be happening a bit earlier and earlier (is 6:30 too early to send your kids to bed?).
We eat dinner, sometimes give all three boys a bath, sometimes skip the bath, then get them jammied and teeth brushed and then without fail, Milo asks for “a family story.” I do believe he made this ritual up all by himself, when one night a month or so ago, instead of Andrew putting the two big boys to bed while I went straight up to quiet a cranky baby, Emil cooperated and all of us piled up onto Milo’s twin bed, stuffed there beside each other and a whole herd of various stuffed animals while Andrew (or I) read a story. All together.
And it was so, so nice. So we try and try to do it every night, but it often goes something like this: we all pile up, snuggle in, and I start the story with Emil on my lap. We get halfway through, and Emil is squirming, arching his back, and rubbing his eyes. He starts to fuss. He squirms and arches some more, then starts full-fledged crying. I try to nurse him while reading, but he is not happy. So, Andrew finishes the story while I give kisses to Milo and Oliver, and say good night, head upstairs, and put the baby to bed.
It makes me sad. I feel bad to get Milo’s hopes up. He really likes this ritual, and I am determined to finish it. Then I feel bad for Emil, who is clearly exhausted and just needs to be done with it. Oliver goes with the flow, but I can tell that Milo is disappointed. Someday it will be easier, this bedtime thing. Emil will be asleep in his crib, Milo and Oliver will snuggle into their beds in a shared room… Andrew and I will put them to bed, then spend time talking and sipping decaf tea… and all three will sleep through the night and blissfully awaken at 7:30 the next morning… okay, now I know I’m dreaming, but is it too much to ask for a good night’s sleep?!?
It is hilarious, actually. Not hilarious as it is happening, all this waking and screaming and the dance that occurs between one parent, then another, between a baby and a two-year-old. The doors that open and close, the steps between one room and the next, the hurried shuffles up and down stairs. The jesuschristareyoukiddingme curses under breath and not-so-under-breath. No, not really hilarious as it is happening, but someday it will be hilarious. I imagine Andrew and I sitting with friends drinking wine and remembering those crazy days when no one slept. The things Oliver said… “Tuck my head in. No, not like that!”… “WAIT! Papa, come IN here!”… “I need a drink of wa-lla. No, not THAT wa-lla, the kind from a GLASS!”… “I need my feet tucked in… No, not like THAT!” … ha, ha, ha, as we take a slow sip of wine and toss our heads back. Our well-rested heads.
Oh, lordy. Someday.
But there are several things I will miss. The things that are hilarious, right here and now. The way they move, the things they say, the way their little bodies look as they wrestle and run and hop and pretend in one-piece pajamas that will be too small next year. Next year, when they are better sleepers.
The way they always want to wear “matching” jammies to bed (even if that just means bottom-flap pajamas and firemen hats). The way they always end up on the same team, fightin’ bad guys who are bigger and have fierce weapons like sticky stretchy hands which whap them if they’re not careful…
But really, we are the ones who should be more careful…
… that we not just survive until the next stage. That we embrace the hilarity and brush off the insanity of the situation that is our life.
Because more than anything, I know for a fact that someday I will be wistful of these days as I slowly sip that wine.