I’ve never had a bedtime routine. I went to bed when I was told (meh?) as a child, and as a single in college and on my own, I never developed a real habit when it came to lights out. Except to never actually sleep with the lights out. Turns out I’ve always been a bit skiddish.
I think this is a blessing, this lack of routine. Because had I acquired a comfortable pattern of behavior, I may be tempted to mourn its shattered memory strewn across my bedroom floor by two unaware children.
They have mastered the art of dismantling any semblance of a routine that I can create. Take tonight for example.
First, I fed them pizza to gain their trust and encourage compliance. It’s difficult to struggle against a warm bath when you’ve been stuffed with bread and cheese. However, because I care about their digestive health, I also gave them grapes which may as well have been chocolate coated espresso beans.
Maybe it wasn’t the grapes. Maybe my plan was a wash from the start. But I need to discharge some discomfort by blaming something here, so take that delicious vineyard fruit.
Because of grapes, there was screaming about the delicate process of washing and detangling cascades of curls. I ran the coils slick from coconut and clove oil through my fingers as she vowed, “I will not put my pajamas on. I’m not cold at all. I am stronger than you think.”
I must have blacked out, cause all I remember was asking her to please please open her mouth so I could help brush her back teeth.
“It’s fine,” Wynton tried to comfort, “they don’t need to brush their teeth.”
“Oh, but they do. And they will.” I doubled down with bristles barred.
A few minutes later, I no longer cared if every tooth in their head has a cavity large enough to whistle Twisted Nerve through it.
Just let them sleep. Please.
They’re sweet as they snuggle into bed. The boy tugs at my shirt collar and coos for a nurse. The girl reads aloud a book she has memorized cover to cover with pride. I almost forget that the goal of my quest is to lull them to sleep as I stare into her glittering brown eyes and wonder how many of those freckles on her cheeks were there last night.
But then, quite suddenly, the moment is lost and so is all control. When did they get out of bed? Why are his pants off again? Who said it was ok to play JuJu on that Beat and dance? Did I do that?
Abruptly, the lights go out. Wynton manages to convince them that lying down is what’s best for them as I float somewhere above my own body.
In minutes I’m surrounded by a chorus of soft snoring. They drift, chests rising and falling in a communal heart beat, and I breathe breathe deep and suck the marrow out of the highlights of our day as I kiss them each on the forehead and tip toe downstairs to binge on Netflix and holiday food I should have thrown out five days ago.
I guess it has its routine, and you’re welcome to pin it for later and give it a try if chaos and mayhem sound like your kind of lullaby.
I saw a woman on a bicycle
Her head wrapped in deep wine linen
Her chest open in balanced pride
Her eyes clear and forward
I met her gaze a moment
As she sailed near my window
I couldn’t help but grip stitched leather
Her freedom, stirring my fears
Her arms flung wide
Leaving the handlebars to chose for themselves
And she threw her face skyward
Saphires and merlots fluttered in the wind
And whispered softly
Nothing can be held tightly
And still breathe life
And there is joy in the cracking open of clenched tight fists
And peace in the unfolding
She smiles at me as she passes my window
Her joy radiates through the thin lines that mark her brow.
The face of a woman who has known fear
And learned to release.