I love my children. I really do.
But boy do I look forward to 7:00 each night.
It never fails.
Each night I stare at the clock hanging on our living room wall and -- as if it's ticking and tocking in slow motion -- the hour-hand finally stops at the number seven.
I look at our wine rack and take a mental inventory of what bottle I'll be popping open after the dramatic feat of getting our three kids to bed is [finally] achieved.
Because lemme tell ya, it's certainly cause for celebration. And let's be real. Mommas need bottles every now and then, too.
Especially after a nighttime routine like ours.
It goes a little somethin' like this:
Corral the girls -- all three of them -- and coerce them upstairs.
The 1-year old turns around and starts sliding downstairs on her butt to get Simba, her stuffed cat. She can't go to bed without that thing.
I follow her while cradling our newborn and barely save myself from tripping over a yellow mega block.
I scour the living room. The dining room. Simba is nowhere to be found.
Our 1-year old is crying. Panicking. If she could, she'd start plastering missing posters for that thing all over our house. WHERE. IS. SIMBA.
Alas, I find the beloved, filthy stuffed cat draped over our dog's water dish. Only his paw is wet. Lovely.
We head back upstairs where Dad-of-the-Year tends to our 2-year old who is emptying all the drawers in the bathroom. He juggles the hodge-podge of hair product and barrettes and dental floss pics strewn across the bathroom floor while I set our newborn down and attempt to change 1-year old into her pajamas.
I say "attempt," because she is running around her bedroom with no pants on like a mad woman.
Once I capture her and confine her within the bars of her crib, she starts a somersault routine as if to continue her protest of wearing pajama pants.
I slide one leg in, and finally another. Her pants are on, and I give up on the rest. It's still a victory even though she'll be wearing a t-shirt to bed that still has a macaroni noodle stuck on its sleeve from lunch.
We pick our battles, people, and the pajama shirt ain't one of 'em tonight.
Meanwhile, Dad finishes picking up the debri from our 2-year old's bathroom destruction and starts brushing her teeth.
She'd rather play with bath toys, though, so she reaches over the tub to make a grab. That's when the teeth-brushing ends abruptly:
"Why is there NO WATER in Thomas [the Train squirt toy]? I WANT WATER!" she demands.
I release our 1-year old from her prison cell (er, crib).
She bolts into the bathroom and hums the "toothbrush song" for her big sister who could've been done 5-minutes ago had she not thrown a fit about the water-less tub toys.
"No!" we stop her mid-shove, just in time for her big sis to start CRYING because God forbid we stop singing the toothbrush song. No one can brush their teeth in our house unless they're singing or humming the toothbrush song. NO ONE.
We get back to singing the toothbrush song that both of us suddenly regret creating in the first place, and we try holding our 1-year old in place.
I somehow manage to squeeze a toothbrush far enough into her mouth to scrub off the Oreo crumbs packed between her molars.
And as if that last bedtime book actually means, "Go crazy," our 1-year old starts a new gymnastics routine in her crib while her big sister giggles and throws stuffed animals at her.
A moment of silence commences for bedtime prayer.
Then it's light's out. Hallelujah! The end is in sight.
Wait. Not so fast.
The 2-year old suddenly has to go potty. She has to go potty NOW.
I take her to the bathroom where she wants to have a heart-to-heart on the potty about Santa and when he's coming to visit. Six more months, sweetie. Six more months.
Now she's thirsty.
"May I please get a drink of water PLEASE?" she's famished.
Sip-sip-slurp. She's done.
With no more excuses to stay up, there's a light at the end of the night.
We've won this battle, and I'll soon be sip-sip-slurping my own celebratory drink of choice. That is, after we sing 12 versions of a bedtime lullaby and tend to the newborn who is suddenly screaming from hunger.
And by the time the newborn is fed and changed and ready for bed, I'm too tired to uncork that bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the first place.
Oh well, there's always tomorrow night...maybe. ;)