It’s 9pm. My kids are more active than they have been all day and the “witching hour” is setting in for me. Have you seen Maleficent? If so, then you have seen the part when Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) seeks revenge on her lover who cut off her wings. She walks up the path to his castle with the look of pure evil on her face, and as she walks, her anger commands the stone walls beside her to crumble and fly off in to the distance. My husband (half jokingly) calls me Maleficent as I walk down the hall to my kids’ rooms when they are not in bed as they are supposed to be. He swears, the pictures on the walls sometimes vibrate.
A full hour ago I asked the kids, the same two kids who didn’t want to sit beside each other at the dinner table three hours prior, to get ready for bed. Now, they are laughing and playing with toys in my son’s room. It seems they become best buddies once the sun goes down. Or maybe they are just conspiring against me at bedtime…
How did this happen to me? How are my kids so different from me; the human in which they were nourished for nine long months?
All my life I have been a morning person. My parents joke I was the only kid that ever actually ASKED to go to bed. We’d be watching a show or playing a game and I would simply stand up and say, “I think I’m gonna go to bed now.” I also distinctly remember getting my own alarm clock in grade 4. I would set it and wake up all by myself on a school day. I used to have to wake up my mom to make my lunch for school. Ha, that’ll be the day around here!
My kids are the exact opposite (except, of course, on weekends when they CAN sleep in, they are up at the crack of dawn to watch cartoons – I guess even kids have priorities). Mornings are atrocious. My daughter makes awful dying animal sounds when I attempt to wake her up. My son frowns and pulls the covers over his head. When they finally do get out of bed (after often up to three wake up calls) and get dressed, they walk long-faced and heavy-footed to the kitchen and slump down in a chair. Well, good morning to you too! Me on the other hand, I have already finished my daily workout, made school lunches, walked the dogs, showered and packed up the kids’ school bags as well as my own. It’s practically lunch time for me.
I take a deep breath and gather up all of my patience. I ask them what they would like for breakfast, to which they sluggishly reply, “I don’t know.” Really? You don’t know? It’s not as if I give them a lot to choose from; it’s not as if the menu changes from day to day. We pretty much serve up the basics here: cereal, yogurt, toast, eggs…
I take another deep breath. I repeat the mantra, “I love my kids, I love my kids…” And I do. They are funny and caring and intelligent little humans, just not before 9 am.
At night it’s a similar dance. We get bedtime routines started at around 8 or 8:30, but they get silly. They dilly dally through brushing their teeth, washing up and story time. Many nights we are finally saying good night and turning off the lights at 9:30. I feel like a horrible parent. All of the other bedroom lights in the neighbourhood have been off for hours. How do the other parents do it? “Tomorrow,” I say to myself. “Tomorrow we will start bedtime way earlier.”
Then I walk off to bed too, sometimes straightening the photos on the wall along the way. My husband pops his head in to the room to say, “Love you, Maleficent.” And I hear him and the kids laughing as he walks down the hall.
I love my night owl family.