I gave Caroline a bath the other night, and it ended up being one of my top 5 best moments as a mom.
Normally, bedtimes are a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am assembly line to get the kids washed and into bed as quickly and painlessly as possible. That is 99% of my advice for parents of 2 close-in-age kids: GIVE THEM THE SAME BEDTIME. Not only does it mean you’re off the parenting clock faster, it also means when the day comes that you have to do it all alone you’ll be set up for success. Sure, a shared bath can get a little… splashy, but the kids seem to like it and it turns a 2 hour ordeal into a 30 minute routine, start to finish. If they’re not particularly dirty and don’t need shampoo E and I can do it in 17 minutes flat. In the Parenting Olympics, we’d be the Michael Phelps of bedtimes.
But on this particular day, Little Evan had an extremely late nap and wasn’t even close to tired when Caroline was rubbing her eyes and making sad little whimpering noises. Rather than try to keep her awake (I’m not a TOTAL idiot) or force the toddler into bed (BAHAHAHAHA), I decided a split bath time was in order and took my girl upstairs for some mommy-daughter time.
I worry a lot that Caroline isn’t getting the kind of extremely focused attention I gave Little Evan his first year. There’s less staring at her while she sleeps and more wondering how long until I can sneak out of the room and collapse in front of Top Chef. It’s not that I don’t have enough LOVE to give her – my heart makes love faster than I could ever give it out – I just don’t have enough TIME. Or maybe more accurately, I don’t THINK I have enough time. There are dishes to be washed! Laundry to be folded! Halloween costumes to make! Playgroups to attend! Quick, I must do ALL THE THINGS because otherwise I lose at motherhood!
But isn’t motherhood really less about doing stuff and more about bath time and rubber duckies and bubble crowns? Watching her splash in the tub, I was struck by how at that moment her entire life was right there in that bathroom. I am the sun to her planet. I could have a whole solar system of kids orbiting me day and night but as far as she’s concerned I am enough, even when I’m not feeling particularly shiny.
It was one of those moments where your mind is blown and you suddenly remember parenting isn’t just playgroups and butt-wiping. It’s RAISING A HUMAN BEING. It’s amazing I’m even being allowed to try.
E’s job is changing after this week. It’s nothing dramatic, just new orders to a new command, but new orders that mean I’m going to be doing a lot more single parenting. I’ll be doing bathtimes and bedtimes and wake-ups and mornings and dinners and snacks and running out of TIME for ALL THE THINGS every single day. I feel overwhelmed already and it hasn’t even started, so it’s good for my mental health to have moments like Caroline’s bath.