Every day feels the same. I am awakened without fail, far too early, by Hannah each and every morning. She comes in and announces the time. Today it was Six Four One. She climbs into my bed between Tim and I and complains that there are too many pillows and proceeds to toss them one by one onto the floor beside us. Some reach the floor while others smack me in the face. She asks to play with my phone which I blindly unplug and hand over to her. She adjusts the volume to “three squares” (silent is out of the question) and chooses one of the many kids apps I’ve bought to entertain her, all of which are too loud for my ears at that hour. I try to ignore the buzzing, whirring, mooing, clanking and singing for the many minutes she sits beside me, taking up My space in My bed in My quiet time. Without fail, after her attention span is depleted, she begins begging to go downstairs. Begging, pleading, whining. She’s hungry. She’s thirsty. She’s uncomfortable. She’s ready to start her day. Luke starts piping up down the hall and I drag myself out of bed to his room as Hannah races to be the first to open his door. Every day she wants to help change his diaper. Every day he kicks her in the face as she does.
Same routine in the kitchen every day. Make coffee, make toast, make oatmeal. Pour milk for one, juice for the other. Prepare lunches. Watch two TV shows and tromp back up the stairs to get dressed. First Hannah, then Luke, then mommy. Brush teeth. Brush hair. Jackets on, lunchboxes in hand, off to school. And at night… it’s all the same again only in reverse. Routine. Ritual. Tradition.
And I’m ok with routine. I often find great comfort in routine. The expected. As boring and painful as the rote may be. But the problem, is that as as my life feels, it is so far away from actually being routine. There is so much unexpected within the standard. So much that I can’t predict. So much chaos within the everyday. And that I am NOT good with.
The temperaments are unpredictable. What will make one smile one day, will make them scream the next. What one wants for lunch on Monday they will despise on Tuesday. The outfit that makes Hannah smile for school makes her miserable for a playdate. The time allowed for playtime before school one day is plenty and the next is far too little. One day Luke plays with the playdough, the next day he eats it. One mealtime Luke drinks from a cup, the next he dumps it. One moment Hannah is verbal and communicative with her feelings, acting more like a nine year old than a five year old, and the next she is thrashing on the floor, throwing a full on tantrum, like a two year old. And that’s what breaks me. Because when I feel like I’ve finally figured SOMETHING out, I go and find out it really doesn’t work at all.
I put Luke in his crib at 12 today. The time he ALWAYS goes down for his solid 2 hour nap. It’s the time I EXPECT to get something done. The time I NEED to refuel for an afternoon of chasing him from one room to the next, catching him as he jumps from the couch and lugging him from the grocery store to Hannah’s school. Needless to say, he’s not sleeping. I’m watching him in the monitor. Not sleeping. He’ll now be overtired and cranky. I’ll have little patience. There goes the expected. So much for routine.
I pick Hannah up from school at the same time every day. I have the same evening planned every day. But I am full of worry every night as I drive to pick her up because of the unpredictability of what my nights will bring with her. Did she nap at school? Did her best friend want to play with her? Did they get to go to the gym? The answers to these questions are different every day. And therefore, so is the routine. I know I shouldn’t expect things to hum along in my house like they do in a well managed assembly line. It’s not THAT kind of “sameness” that I seek. But if any part of my day could be consistent from one day to the next, it would help.
Consistency. It’s supposedly the key to parenting. I just wish my kids had to read the same books I read, so they’d understand that consistency on their part would help me out too.