The countdown, it starts ticking ever louder even before the afternoon is over. I peer at the clock between the 67th round of dress-up as the second-hand turns in slow-motion. While I’m winding down, the kids are gearing up. Their voices talk over each other until it’s all just noise. Noisy noise, making my head hurt. Is it time yet?
3 hours: I think I can, I think I can.
Dinnertime, when my two youngest know I’m preoccupied and take advantage of the opportunity. They jump on couches after I warn against and streak through the house at the speed of light. When they’re finally quiet, it’s too quiet. Most likely because they’ve been in the bathroom, splashing in a sink full of water. I spend our meal urging them to sit, to eat, to not throw food on the floor. How much longer?
2 hours: It’s official, this night is never going to end.
Try to regain my wits after the catastrophe of dinner. The kids, however, are always hyped up like I gave them bowls of sugar for their meal. They are a tornado of constant conflict sweeping through, making a mess of destruction in their path. My moment of zen is fleeting and laughable. Cue the tiny violins as I chant curses at the clock.
1 hour: The light, I can see it, though very faint.
Clean up. Baths. Brushing teeth. Diapers. Pajamas. Chaos. Does it ever stop? Gather kids together like a ranch hand herding cattle, with not as much luck. Stare impatiently at the time. Why don’t these kids ever act tired? I’m exhausted. Disheveled. Done.
5… 4… 3… 2… 1…
Bedtime! Sweet, beautiful bedtime. Does it make me a bad mom that I love you so?