Reality Check! (or Parents Are Insane)

It just became infinitely clear what I’ve gotten myself into.

Our nightly bedtime routine has evolved over the course of our four years of parenting. It now contains more steps than the passage of complex bills by Congress.

Russian Revolution, October 1917. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (Ulyanov - 1870-1924) haranguing the deputies of the Second Soviet Congress in the Smolny Palace, St Petersburg.

Let’s pretend this free, grainy depiction of the Russian Revolution is actually a picture of Congress instead of me paying for an actual picture of Congress.  Thanks.

First, we read scriptures and say a prayer together as a family (during which Anna, our oldest who is four, is usually paying decent attention and asking questions like “why did Moses talk to fire?” and Viva, who is two, is busy flitting around the room like a bat on crack knocking toys off shelves and grinding crayons into the carpet and also being adorable).  Then we do “clean-ups” where we pick up All The Toys (ever made?) and put them into the closet knowing full well that by 10:00am tomorrow they’ll be strewn everywhere including the bathrooms once again, and will remain that way all day long.  (Parents are insane.) Then the girls get in their jammies which have to match in some way or Anna has a meltdown.  Then we do the Pajama Dance where the girls dance while Wife and I clap rhythmically and sing a song we made up. Then we brush and floss teethies, take flouride, and give hugs and kisses.  Finally, Wife and I each take one of the girls and put her to bed with her own routine.

Viva is simple.  You go in, read a book or two, put her in her crib, sing her a song, give her a kiss through the bars of her prison crib (we have crib-tent! It is awesome!), and then blow kisses as you leave the room.

Anna is more complicated. You go in, read her a book, turn off the light, sing her a song, and then give her the chance to “ask a question.” These questions can range in seriousness and complexity from “What letter does Viva start with?” to “Daddy, why did Mommy’s grandpa die? I miss my great great great Grandpa!” as she breaks down weeping. Mostly, though, her questions revolve around Michael Jackson’s Thriller and zombies.

(I kid you not, the girl is fascinated by Thriller and wants to watch it almost daily.

                      Nothing more soothing than this sweet lullaby.

Today I let her watch The Way You Make Me Feel. She watched it with a reverence reserved for funerals, then looked up at me like it was like a revelation and whispered “Daddy, there are two Thrillers.”)

After “ask a question,” I am required to ask how many kisses she wants, and where on her face she wants them.  Then we count them out on our hands, I distribute the kisses, we do the same thing with the kisses I blow to her at the door, and then finally after sometimes an hour and a half (total process, not just Anna), I am free.

The 30 seconds after the bedtime routine is a moment of true, unadulterated joy. It is glorious.  It’s kind of like being done with school for the summer. Your mind races with the possibilities! TV? Internet? Time alone with Wife? More dessert?

The world is your oyster!

Tonight, I finished the arduous process in record time, and felt great relief.  I felt peace.  I decided to head downstairs to hop online and play some Facebook games while I waited for Wife to finish her bedtime ritual with the other daughter. As I got to the living room, though, I was startled by something so jarring it made me stop in my tracks.

One-week-old Tessa, whose existence outside the womb had slipped my weary mind, was not asleep after bedtime.

She was crying.

And then so was I. In the fetal position. Inconsolably.  For hours.

At least that’s what I wanted to do. In reality, I retrieved her with a heavy heart from the bathroom where she was sleeping (barbaric, I know, but it’s the darkest place in the house and the fan provides amazing white noise) and changed her diaper. Then I tried to rock her back to sleep, which wasn’t entirely successful.

But you wanna know what? Instead of annoyance, all I felt for that little creature in my arms was love.

Like I said.  Parents are insane.


  1. All Espen gets is a bottle, then clean teeth, diaper and jammies, a song and then we wind up his musical giraffe and call it good.

    I have a feeling that this isn't going to last forever, though. Even adding the step of brushing his teeth (two!) has seriously impacted the bed time routine.

    Also, thanks for posting your blog on Facebook! It reminds me of old times on Livejournal 🙂

  2. We love what we sacrifice for. I think Parenting is one of the best ways we learn more about service and the nature of our Heavenly Father.

  3. @Christine–Ha! Until having children, I pretty much was the child in our household as well. Wife still occasionally dresses me.

    @Tamsin–Ah, livejournal! Those were the days.

    @Anonymous–Very true.

    @Dian–I'm sure you did tell me so because you are very smart and have Been There Done That. However, I have no recollection what you told me 😉 Clearly I'm not a good listener. Remind me?

  4. What is awesome is having a seven-year-old that can completely shower and dress herself, plus turn on her CD player and turn off her light. We can just tell her to get ready and go to bed, and it happens without our input. It's great (and a little weird). Unfortunately we have a four-year-old who continues to be surprised every night that he's expected to get his pajamas on, brush his teeth, and actually stay in bed. The elation of being kid-free is even greater after spending an hour repeatedly putting said four-year-old back in bed one hundred times.

    Hopefully your third child will work out to be an easy sleeper. Our second was (and still is) the worst at bedtime. For the first two months or so the baby had a hard time with sleeping. Then we were blessed with some kind of miracle and now all you have to do is change her, feed her a bottle, put in her in the crib, and see her again is 12 hours when she wakes up. She's been doing this for six months and I'm still in awe of the awesomeness of it all.

    And now I just wrote a blog post as my comment 🙂

  5. That is adorable. I've put kids to sleep before, but none of them have had such complicated bed time routines!

    Also, I love that you read scripture to your kids. Awesome. =)

  6. What I told you, in a nutshell:

    Having a third child is not adding one–it is an exponential mathematical conundrum, because no matter how much you plan and prioritize, there is always one more child than parents, which throws the whole thing out of balance. It's a delightful paradox…enjoy it. 🙂

  7. @Bi–Feel free! However, I must warn you that there will be vicarious moments that aren't quite so idyllic. Like when I get annoyed and threaten not to read her a book in a fit of lameness. That's right Josh. Punish your child with illiteracy. You show her.

    @FoxyJ–I'm so glad #3 is being so awesome with the sleep situation! Currently Tessa has days and nights a little mixed up. Not awesome. Also, I love lengthy comments so feel free to write a blog post for a comment here anytime.

    @Catherine–I know-I think we kind of dug our own graves with this one. I've thought that amendments to the process might be necessary as Tessa gets older. Maybe what FoxyJ was saying will happen and Anna will become all independent and stuff. There's a thought!


    @Dian–Thanks for retelling me! I will certainly enjoy the paradox (ha!). Thankfully, so far #3 has been much, much easier than #2 was. Viva rocked our worlds something fierce. But, clearly we are still making some adjustments with this one, too, like me remembering Tessa exists and such 😉

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