Mom’s Night Off
A typical evening in my house consists of dinner – often prepared by Gabe and cleaned up by me – followed by a wrestling match, wherein the boys try to take down their father. It’s a futile battle for now, but won’t be much longer. They love to lose, as losing ends up in being tickled. This they actually enjoy, which I find baffling since there is nothing I would like less, now or as a child.
Bedtime begins around 7pm – yes, this is early, but bear with me. I said it begins around 7pm. Thus commences a consistent routine of goofing-off and hilarity, in which both young gentlemen find themselves in front of mirrors in their bedrooms and in the bathroom, and this in and of itself is so tempting that they simply cannot help but become small Jim Carreys. This lasts upwards of 30 minutes, at which point one of the parents becomes frustrated and stomps down the hall to herd them through pajamafying and brushing of the teeth. Mostly, this is me.
Then we read – one book chosen by each – and we sing – two songs – and we pray. This sounds so peaceful, but it never is. In between said activities there are pelting questions, plenty of bed-jumping, boy-flailing, giggling and hog-tying.
By now it is invariably after 8pm. I stumble back to the family room and promptly pass out during the first 20 minutes of Castle or Modern Family.
But Friday nights – Friday nights are different. We’ve instituted a little shift in the routine. Friday has become Mom’s Night Off.
At 4 and 8, they are perfectly capable of putting themselves to bed. They may not like it, but they are perfectly capable. And, it is my opinion, one night off a week is really not asking so much.
Friday nights, they get to stay up a bit later and then, in return for the sacrifice of going to sleep without being read and sung to by Mommy, they get to skip brushing their teeth. I know, gross, right?! But they are boys and they don’t care about placque or stinky breath; to them, it’s a reward.
It’s only fair that I give ’em a little something in return…they don’t like it, but they are used to it, and they even agree: Mom deserves a night off. They get their hugs and kisses from me on the couch, and off they go, with only minor protests and minimal whining.
Gabe goes out with his man-friends every other Friday. While I’m always up for an evening with my hubs, it’s blissful to sink into the couch with my blankie and a glass of wine. I’m the only girl, you see. Try to imagine how often I get to even HOLD the remote control, much less choose a program.
Every other Friday I get caught up on What Not to Wear, Say Yes to the Dress, or Jane Austen and I make it a movie night.
It’s a beautiful thing, those Fridays. A beautiful thing.
In all seriousness, this is just an example of the kinds of boundaries Gabe and I feel are so important for our kids. They aren’t the center of the universe (much as Scrappy tries to convince us otherwise.) They never will be. We can treat them as if they are, then someday they’ll come crashing back into the correct orbit in a painful and possibly humiliating wake-up call as adults. Or, they can learn it as we go – Mom and Dad are people too, and deserve the respect and grace of not always being at beck and call. Parents are not robots, we are not servants. We are parents, and humans, and fallible. We need sleep, we need to eat, and we need a break every once in a while.
I see so many adults who are oblivious to responsibility. They grew up getting everything they wanted, and thus, as adults, assume now that they deserve everything they want. This cannot be.
I love my boys too much to let them grow up thinking that they are the center of the universe.
(For all you girl-moms out there, I just want you to know that my boys are also growing up to believe [in their words] that: dads are supposed to do most of the cooking and should bring their wives coffee, every morning. We’re just doing their future wives a favor. I’m still working on the putting-the-dirty-clothes-IN-the-hamper problem)
Why kinds of boundaries do you feel are important for your kids to learn and understand?