I came home exhausted around 7:30. I informed the girls I was going to lay down for a little nap. Dagne immediately wanted to come too. She climbed into bed with me and wiggled around excitedly to be next to me. I tried to lay on my favorite side and she asked, “Will you turn over so I can see your face?” I laughed and complied. 

“Why do you want to see my face?” I asked.

“Because you’re the prettiest mom in the world,” she answered, smiling.

I guess every mother gets a turn at being the prettiest in the world. To our children, we must look like angels when we take the time to kiss and hug and tuck in and soothe.  

Five minutes later we were asleep.

The plan was for me to take a power nap and then get back to work. Two hours later, Ingrid was at my side asking me something. I mumbled for her to get ready for bed and to tell the older girls to do the same.

Soon, I heard Ingrid’s voice rise in anger as she broke down in tears, yelling that no one ever listens to her. She’d blown her top and was shouting at the top of her lungs. I could hear Greta speaking in her best sing-song-I’m-totally-pushing-my-little-sister’s-buttons voice.

I yell downstairs, “I only asked you to tell your sisters to go to bed. I didn’t ask you to enforce it. You’ve done your job, now get on with your own business of getting to bed and let me deal with your sisters.”

Ingrid slammed the door and stomped downstairs, still yelling that no one ever listens to her. I drowsily lost a few minutes in sleep. I could hear Ingrid screaming at Greta downstairs. Finally, I got up.

I marched down and scared the bejeebies out of Ingrid for disobeying. She collapsed in my arms in tears. I marched her into the bathroom and told her to brush quickly. I lectured Greta for pushing buttons. I kissed Elsa goodnight. Then, I marched a weeping, yelling, frustrated little 8-year old up to my bed.

I told her that she won’t remember what the big deal is in the morning. I covered her with kisses and cuddled up beside her and told her I love her so much.

She fell asleep in ten minutes.

One full week in school and I can feel the toxins building. On the way home, there was pushing, shoving, giggling, shouting, fighting, and playing that was beyond what’s normal for my girls. It’s like they’re ovestimulated or understimulated — cooped up to0 long, demanded of too much, bored, or something — but the hyperactivity isn’t normal.

The fights aren’t normal. The breakdowns aren’t normal.

All this is alleviated with enough sleep and a gentle routine at home.  

I wonder how many parents think that breakdowns and fights and hyperactivity is normal?

They must get used to it, I guess. We’re going to have to get used to it too. And like most mothers, I’ll do my best to make it all work.

I’ll try to hold it all together with roasts and veggies, nighttime prayers, worksheet advice, homemade lunches, little notes, hugs, kissing teary-eyed faces, and cheerful goodbyes and greetings.

That’s what we mothers do: the best we can with what we’ve got. Here’s a toast to all of you mothers — the heart of your homes!

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