Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Bedtime Routine

I had one of those moments last night that leaves me re-evaluating my parenting.

After a rough morning, we had a great day at daycare. When we got home, dinner prep was underway, but we interrupted that to exchange Valentines and tell each other how much we love us. As Steve and I made dinner, the kids set the table, then talked about their day while they continued work on their most recent craft. Then we sat in front of the tv (I know. tsk tsk!) savoring our homemade burgers and salad and watched some science show that I can't recall now. (The flipside of watching tv while we eat is that we rarely pay attention to the show because we're too busy talking.) Once the dishes were cleared and the kitchen cleaned, Jonas and I snuggled up and read some Dr. Seuss, while Steve and Tasha read books of their own. The day was ending perfectly - until the call of "Betime Jonas!"

It's not what you think. Jonas was great. He got up, grabbed Teddy, gave us all hugs and kisses and headed upstairs on his own. Usually, he bids goodnight to Tasha and I, and then takes Steve's hand to start their bedtime routine. But not last night. Last night he wanted to do it by himself.

When I asked him why, he said that Dad and the cats looked too comfy on the couch to disturb them. Steve responded with "Thanks Buddy!" and followed it up with "He's a big boy now mom." While it was they were sweet sentiments, my mom-brain protested. "He's only 7. He's too young. He needs his routine. HE'LL THINK WE DON'T LOVE HIM!"

I'm pretty sure that Steve could see my wheels turning and the smoke leaking out of my ears. He smiled at me, waited until Jonas rounded the corner and then followed him. Then my brain started going again. "He'll think we don't trust him. He'll think we think he's not old enough or responsible enough. HE'LL THINK WE DON'T LOVE HIM!"

Oh the confusion! This wouldn't be the first time he's taken himself to bed. It happened once before and, my vision of the perfect bedtime routine shattered, I spent the night wrestling with mom-guilt over it. What's up with that?! This time I sat in stunned silence.

For a long time, Jonas only wanted me to take him to bed. He'd ask every night who was going to take him, even though the answer was always the same. I felt guilty every night I didn't make the trek upstairs and I rejoiced when he stopped asking and just expected Dad to be the one. 

I love that Steve and Jonas get a few minutes at the end of every day to spend together one-on-one. I even like that they have their own routine, though it's very different from mine. I've come to accept that it sometimes mens he goes to bed wearing the same clothes he wore all day instead of his jammies. They hug and kiss, Steve tucks him in and tells him he loves him, and then it's lights out. (I, on the other hand, sit up there and talk with him for several minutes, indulging every question, no matter how off-the-wall.)

I also like that he's developing independance, and I usually encourage it. He wasn't unhappy or protesting anything. He was just content to go by himself. I should have been happy. He obviously had a good day yesterday and didn't feel a need to draw out bedtime. So why do I feel like those final words are so important?

It's probably the same instinct that forces me to pop into his room to kiss his head every time I walk by his door after he's asleep. My bedtime routine was an important part of my childhood. The truth is that the mom I want to be is pretty demanding, and this is something that she's just not ready for any of us to let go of yet.

Don't tell anyone but I'm secretly hoping it doesn't happen again tonight!


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