I Dislike Myself at 7 PM

7 PM is the toughest part of my day. I am tired from work, preparing dinner, helping with homework, giving baths, and running through my kids’ nighttime routines.  Each one has their own special requests that we run through daily: night light on (but only halfway); stuffed animals in the bed (then on the nightstand); read me a book (but let me ask four hundred questions in the process); bring me some milk (that’s too much, that’s not enough). And the requests and routines go on and on.

Sometimes I don’t recognize myself while we are going through these routines. I have ZERO patience. I raise my voice a little too loud, and I can’t seem to find the right balance of firm tone and loving words.  I truly just feel like I am the worse me I can be. I do my very best to take five deep breaths, walk away from the situation, put myself in their shoes, and any other trick I have been taught. But the honest to goodness truth is that I am tired and it is hard, very very hard.

When the kids finally go down (after fifteen hugs and kisses, four sips of water, five trips to the bathroom, fifteen more questions, a song, a dance, and a prayer to all that is good), I come downstairs to a quiet house and finally feel the tension release from my neck. I grab a sweet treat, a bubbly water or a glass of wine, and I promise myself tomorrow I will try harder to be patient. I promise myself that tomorrow I will remember that they are just tired, too. I promise myself to use the breathing techniques I have been taught. I promise myself to give them extra hugs in the morning when I am calm and they are calm.

At the end of the day, the truth is that they will move out of this stage.  Soon, all of the attention they demand will simmer to a slow boil, and I will miss these days, the days when I disliked my 7 PM self, and I will dream about these bedtime routines…well, perhaps not dream...but laugh at what they used to be.