I’ve been trying a new little mantra the past few months. Except a mantra is supposed to be a one-sentence insight, right? I don’t think I’ve bothered to boil it down to one sentence. Really, what I’ve been trying to do is not be bothered by things I’m not willing to, don’t have the power to, or don’t have the energy to change. I only let myself get bothered by something if I’m willing to change it. And if I’m not, I make a very conscious effort, a very concerted, a very effort-ful effort to not be bothered.
For example… the perfect example… tonight’s example… is putting the kids to bed. Our kids go to bed quite well, I’d say. The little ones generally sleep for 11-12 hours at night. We don’t have much to complain about, except those nights that they call and call and call after they’ve been tucked in. I’ve realized recently that Luke’s little brain starts thinking as soon as he lays down at night and sometimes he calls me in for the most random things. So I’ve taken to letting him tell me three important things as I tuck him in, in the hopes of warding off the calling from him for that.
But there’s always something else, isn’t there? Water. Teddy bear. Music louder. Music quieter. Door open. Door closed. (This brings to mind GOB Bluth talking to Kitty: “Glasses on. Hair up.” “Hair down. Glasses off…”)
Tonight I got so mad. Not at the kids. Well, at least not in front of the kids. I told Marc with eyes bugging out in rage that I feel powerless with them when they’re calling. The first few calls, I’m all stroking their hair and telling them I love them. But it’s almost inevitable that at some point they call one too many times, and I freak out. (On Remembrance Day weekend, I took the kids to my aunt and uncle’s place in Regina. I tucked the kids in and told them that if I had to come back in the room they would all be spanked. “Even if you call me to tell me that one of you is dead, you’ll get spanked.” Madeline was very concerned, and with almost tears in her eyes she said, “You’ll spank us even if we’re dead?” “Yes,” I replied, “At least you won’t feel it.”) (I should add here, that I wasn’t mad during this little vignette; I was mostly proud at how clever I was in that moment.)
The thing is, it’s so hard to tell when the kids are calling for a legitimate reason. And it’s not that I don’t want to respond to them when they call. It’s just that they just call and call and call some nights. So I have to make the choice: if I go in there, I can’t get mad because I am making the choice to go in. And, if I’m going to be bothered by their calling, I better be willing to dole out the tough love and stick to the boundary of “No. You’ve been tucked in. You have everything you need. Go to sleep. I will see you in the morning.”
Oh boy. This post was supposed to help me come to peace with our night time affairs. But currently, it’s just making me more agitated. Maybe it’s because the oldest child is still skulking about getting ready for bed. She doesn’t call once she’s tucked in, but she sure does know how to lolly-gag her way through her bedtime routine.
I guess with kids… with people… with everyone in general… there will always be things that irritate us. And I think there is something to my little mantra that’s not a mantra. If I’m going to be annoyed, I need to be willing to do something. If I won’t do anything, I can choose to not be annoyed.
Really. I can.