A small disclaimer: Ever since another mom sympathized with me and introduced me to the term "the witching hours" I've been wanting to write about them, to remember when I'm older how much of a whirlwind this time is. I of course do not mean my children are at all into witchcraft or wizardry. But they do seem to be able to make a lot of magically awful things happen all at once.
Since school got out, Jimmy has been home and works his cleaning job M-Th evenings. Yes, this has been quite a vacation for all of us, and I have appreciated the help with crowd control during the day. Really, he's pretty lucky because he leaves the house at just the right time. Some mom's call them "the witching hours", I always say, "It's just that time of day" but whatever you want to call them, those hours from about 5 p.m. until bedtime are just wretched. It's as if right before the stork dropped them into this atmosphere he whispered, "Fall to the earth, little one. Snuggle up to your mommy and daddy. Be really cute. But make sure you cry, whine, make trouble, fall down and get hurt, over react, feel really hungry, and act really tired from five to eight p.m." I don't know what it is, but the volume seems to go up 150%, and it's like eight people need my help instead of four. Someone always seems to be getting hurt, and it's absolutely impossible for them to leave me alone.
I guess it's because I'm trying to meet a lot of needs during this time, dinner being the most important. I'm not even cooking complicated stuff, here. But in the time it takes me to make scrambled eggs and broccoli my sanity is all of a sudden hanging itself by a noose made of this yellow yarn which seems to always be pulled out from my "no toddler zone" anyway and floats all over the house. I'm dropping food from the counter into their mouths like a trainer at Sea World drops raw fish into Shamu's belly. It's a wonder there's anything left for dinner.
But there is an intermission. If I can make all our plates of food, place them all on the table at the exact same time, and have everyone begin their meal together, those few seconds when everyone takes their first bite and are chewing, are golden. It is TOTALLY silent. It happened last week and let me tell you, it was the most wonderful quiet I've ever heard. Yes, it only lasted about thirty seconds but it showed me that it is possible to outsmart these tiny, loud, dramatic, larger than life creatures we call children. I catch my breath and assure myself I still stand at the helm of the ship, even in the midst of a nor'easter.
Once dinner is over, chaos erupts while I try to work until the kitchen qualifies as "clean". The kids help me clear the table, which often involves Cash dumping his leftovers on the floor, but at least they try. Then, it's bath time, whether they need it or not, because it kills 30 minutes and keeps them from making further messes all over the house.
After they are dressed and ready for bed, their rooms are "clean" and they have done any other random chores I can dish out, I put them in front of a video, the duration of which is in direct proportion to just how crazy things have been for the last two hours. I use video time to nurse Penelope and stare at her cuteness.
And lastly, with my energy at about 15%, I put them to bed, say prayers, and try to close the door as fast as I can before someone else asks another question, wants their blanket fixed, says they're thirsty, or uses another one of their many tactics from their stalling arsenal. I am not afraid to admit that sometimes I say my final "good night" through clenched teeth.
And then, it's 8 p.m. And I can finally breathe and do things without interruption. Like finish this blog, which I've been writing on for three days. And eat, sitting down, without getting up until I'm finished. They may be called "the witching hours" until bedtime, but after that I enjoy something very magical called "quiet." Shhhhhhhhh...