May 222012
 

I let Craig handle last night’s round of “Whack-a- Mole” (bedtime) and settled into the couch at 7:45. It’s like my victory lap –  that couch settling.

 Day is done, gone the son, gone the girls and the the fights and the whiiiiines. All is calm- Bravo ooooon- sleep is nigh….

One of the myriad problems with this parenting gig is that they save the hardest part for last. BEDTIME. Bedtime should be in the morning – when we’re fresh and kind and sweet –  and decent parenting still seems like a very real possibility. But no, the hardest parts – dinner and baths and bedtime – arrive at the end of the day- when we have nothing left. When the truth is, we are counting the minutes. Counting the moments until no one is the boss of us anymore. Until we can sink into that couch, book, internet, or glass of wine – whatever our victory lap includes.

It doesn’t help that in our mommy minds, we have this idea that bedtime is supposed to be the most peaceful, loving time of day. That we are supposed to send our lovies off to dream land with songs, stories, soft, sweet voices and strokes of their cherubic heads. Sometimes bedtime happens this way for us. Not often.

Each of our kids gets a story at bedtime. They never pick a good one, they pick the longest one.

And the little one wants to “help read” her book. So, let’s see. It takes her about six minutes to sound out each word, and so if the book is one hundred words, well, I don’t specialize in math but I am telling you that I am stuck in that room FOREVER. It feels like I will be reading that book with Amma until I die. And I know I’m supposed to be SUPPORTING her reading. I mean it’s good – this is good stuff, this wanting to read. I was a reading teacher, I know this is GOOD stuff about which I am supposed to be EXCITED. But for me, exhaustion trumps excitement every single time. And I can’t help but notice that the ONLY TIME SHE CARES THIS MUCH ABOUT READING IT HERSELF IS AT BEDTIME. When she can hold me hostage and stay up six minutes later with every sounded-out-word.  And so while I’m supposed to be thinking sweet thoughts, all I can think is: OH MY GOD. I AM GOING TO DIE. JUST JUMP RIGHT OUT OF MY SKIN. YOU SUCK AT READING. YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK. PLEASE GOD. PLEASE MAKE THIS BOOK..just..just …DISAPPEAR so I can take my victory lap. I DESERVE MY VICTORY LAP!

But No. Nope. No help from above. So it goes on. And on.  “S….o…….soooooooooo  t-h- e….tuuuuu—-huuuuuu—-eeeeeeeeee?” says Amma. I am held hostage for forty five minutes. When she is finally done. I decide that after that debacle there is NO WAY that the Universe also expects me to sing the “song” that is also part of her “bedtime routine.” I say goodnight and pray she’ll forget.

But they never forget. They PRETEND to forget ONLY so that they have another excuse to pop out of their rooms and remind you of what you forgot.

So three minutes later, when I think I’m in the clear, here comes my littlest mole. “You forgot my song,” she says. And I stare at her for a long second and admit to myself two things.

1. She is unbelievably cute and precious and one day I will miss these visits, especially when she starts  sneaking out of her room to party with her friends instead of to find me to sing to her.

2. Doesn’t matter. I’m going to lose it.

And so I sing her song. But I sing it like an insane person. Eyes wide, teeth clenched, just a little too loud. No sweetness. Like a robot. “You. Are. My. Sun. SHINE. My. Only. Sun. SHINE. I sing it like there are implied curse words between every lyric.

She gets it. She finally goes to sleep. They know when mommy’s done. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective. And often that’s the best I can do.

So last night as I waited for Craig to whack the last mole –  I half listened to the bedroom doors re-open and the typical mole-y excuses –  “I can’t sleep because my elbow hurts!” “I need ICE COLD water, not reg-a-lar water” “My closet doors are open.” There’s an elephant shadow on my window.”  Whack- Whack-Whack- Whack.  Nothing new. The moles are not too creative tonight, I thought .  But then – I hear a door open and one appears to say to poor Craig- mallet in hand- sitting against the wall in the hallway – “I can’t sleep because my finger smells because I keep scratching my bottom.”

Hmm. Not bad, I thought, and I giggled, because it’s funny when it’s not your turn. Craig says, “Okay. Go wash your hand.” I hear the water run, hallway waddling, child returns to her room. Two minutes later, door re-opens, child-mole re-appears. “My finger still….” “GO WASH YOUR HAND AGAIN,” Craig says with that very even, controlled tone that indicates the Whack -a-Mole machine is about to BUST. Water starts, child- mole slowly creeps back to her room. A minute later, door re-opens. Mole child says, “My finger still…THEN STOP SCRATCHING YOUR BUTT. AND STOP SMELLING YOUR FINGER! OR PUT IT UNDER YOUR PILLOW. HOLD YOUR BREATH. WHATEVER IT TAKES. JUST GO. TO. SLEEP!

Mole child gets it. She is out of quarters. Daddy’s broke. Machine is done for the day.

No more doors open.

Craig comes downstairs.

He joins me with tea and Mad Men for our victory lap. He’s asleep within ten minutes.

 

Love,

G



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  400 Responses to “Whack-A- Mole”

  1. […] to sit, listen to music, people watch, chat, and do some rereading for nearly 2 hours. No Whack a Mole Bedtime for me tonight! I was impressed each time I glanced up to see Glennon greet her nearly 400 […]

  2. […] are winding down for bed.  (If you don’t know the reference to Whack-a-mole check it out here.)  And the challenges that come with all of those ages are of course present.  I also have the […]

  3. […] the final nugget, we go to Momastery. Whenever I read Glennon Doyle Melton, I laugh so hard  or weep with a broken heart. I ALWAYS […]

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  8. [...] adopted the phrase whack-a-mole when referring to bedtime now thanks to one of my favorite bloggers. Every night when I’m done [...]

  9. [...] friend Glennon over at Momastery described nighttime reading like this: “The little one wants to ‘help read’ her book. So, [...]

  10. [...] the idea. They are far more creative in their requests than we are in ours. It’s exactly like Whack-A-Mole! Can’t tell you how many times Brian and I give each other questioning looks for whose turn [...]

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I got a hearty laugh because I have a kid who is the mole. He is a late night pooper and it drives us crazy. He is tucked in bed, and then creak the bedroom door opens, into the bathroom he goes. I think… he had all day to poop. Why does he always wait to after bedtime???

  12. [...] friend Glennon over at Momastery described nighttime reading like this: “The little one wants to ‘help read’ her book. So, [...]

  13. [...] 4.  Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery “Whack a Mole” [...]

  14. Michael, the Big 12 expands just as soon as Maryland wins their suit. Now if Delaney swoops in and offers two more schools from tobacco road to give Maryland allies it could be sooner. Past FSU, Clemson, and whomever else is left in the ACC the Big 12 stays at 10-teams. I just don’t believe the Big 12 goes to 12-teams by adding SMU and Houston. Or Cincy and S. Florida, etc. One of those teams may end up in the mix to round out expansion, not to start it.

  15. I’m a little ahead of this given the stance, but I think I want to wait and hear a little more about how th e schedule would function if there were a championship game. A couple options:

  16. Powerfull theme, great job guy!

  17. Don’t workout drunk

  18. Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too excellent.

  19. My little moles are all grown up now but your words paint a perfect picture of many bedtimes in my house. You are sooo right & sooo funny! Thank you!

  20. [...] gave me a link to an article from another mom that likened bedtime to the game of whack-a-mole. GO on over to her page and read it! It was a nice read after my discouraging [...]

  21. Bahahahahaha. I could swear you are peering in my windows at night and writing about what you see. This is so true. Every. Single. Part. Thanks for the laugh. I needed it.

  22. SO funny because it’s so true. I can definitely relate. Thanks for telling it like it is and thanks for the laughs!

  23. [...] waiting – for what? who knows.  This can drag on bedtime for hours; we now refer to it as Whack-a-Mole (“How many times did you have to Whack-a-Mole?” is a common question now as we recap my [...]

  24. My family members every time say that I am killing my time here at net, except I know I am getting knowledge every day by reading thes fastidious posts.

  25. I have read so many articles regarding the blogger lovers except this paragraph is really a nice post, keep it up

  26. As an experiment the other night, I let my toddler sit on the potty for as long as he wanted (it’s his new stalling routine). He sat alone in the dark for 30 minutes without any potty action. I just had to end it after 30 minutes, because by then I was even crabbier and he was just as calm as ever. I really do wonder how long it would have taken him to fall asleep on his little training potty!

  27. This is good…. I needed a laugh today! Fortunately, bedtime is not TOO bad at our house and seems to get easier for us as they get older, but I’m so thankful for a great husband that makes “whack a mole” time a whole lot easier. A glass of wine and Mad Men is our victory lap too… good taste!

  28. I remember those days, not too fondly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end when they are teenagers, it just evolves. Now they think they are old enough to stay up later. They have somehow managed in the last 3 years to push it from 8:30, no exceptions, to “it’s only 9:30, cant we watch one more episode of …” My 5 teens are home schooled so we are together all day long. So do you think that we could have deep, philosophical conversations throughout the day? No, bedtime is the best time for this. Thanks for the laughs :)

  29. Though we have many many differences in our lives in so many ways I read your postings and think hey did she spy on me today. This bed time one is particularly poignant our kids (twins 10.5 months) can’t talk yet but these feelings about bed time apply nonetheless. Every description from my expectations of how this time of day would be to skin crawling, let me out of this prison…amazing. Thank you for reminding me we aren’t the only ones.

  30. Omg, I am laughing so hard reading this!!! I was reading the book Froggy Goes to Bed (http://www.amazon.ca/Froggy-Goes-Bed-Jonathan-London/dp/0140566570) to a client of mine yesterday and his parents were peeing their pants laughing at how well it described every night of their life. Of all of our lives. The million and one excuses about everything and anything. This post was awesome :)

  31. LOVE it! I always tell my girls I am a 12 hour mom. From 8-8 I am fun, loving and kind. After 8… not so good. Once they even made me a mothers day card that read…. “even though you are cranky after 8… we still love you”.I always tell them… I have nothing left to give them!

  32. laughed out loud! thank you!

  33. I have 3 sons- two are “tweeners” and I have a 3 year old. When the older ones were “young and tried to run the bedtime show”, I came up with a reading activity:
    The boys (and I) LOVE POEMS. There are great poets that write for children. Every night, we would chose a Poetry book, sit on one of their beds, and each child would hold the book like a volume of magic. The surprise was in the opening. Just OPEN IT and there is a story on whatever page you land on— all on one page (maybe two). Read it to them, or have them read it. Two Poems per child…. long, short, strange, funny, but always a story within the random cracking. The best part of it was the surprise of what page they opened up—a gift of knowing each one would be a full experience—- of laughter, of time, of POETRY. It became a game of chance they couldn’t wait for…. and were satisfied after their “two poems each” were read. 4 stories per night– not just one! They still talk about that– and soon, my littlest one can be in on the game with me– and probably them. I know that someday they can rely on that “Whack-a-mole” memory and share the gift of poetry with their own kids and the surprise of just “the opening” of the book– magic within.

    • love this idea love it love it…..my 2 lil’ ones are 5 and 18months but im gonna start this with them maybe not every night but some sounds fun and could broaden their reading into poems not just stories :) we have our own special bedtime routine that includes cuddles stories teeth brushing potty hugs and kisses from each person they each have a lullaby and my 5yr old started knock knock jokes about a yr ago we each make up 1 or 2 sumtimes 3 when im still being a good mommy lol after all this they go 2 sleep and we hardly ever have a peep out of either;)
      “B”

  34. It’s obvious that neither of the parents are fans of any race venue. A victory lap is only allowed to the winner. There is no winning in parenting. It is a job, not a race. And like most jobs, there is overtime, poor working conditions, and you must deal with the rest of the people associated with the job, and they all have their own agenda. Your paycheck comes in one lump sum after about 25 years, when you finally kick them out on their own, and then you can sit and become the alcoholic you always dreamed of being. I suggest you watch the Fokker movies, and study up on the Ferber method. Self soothing works best after the door locks on the bedroom have been moved to the outside, and are used the first time the parent leaves the room.

  35. I only have one mole, but MAN can I relate.

  36. Reading this was the best part of my day.

  37. My youngest is now 27, but this still made me laugh out loud. Nothing has changed. And, yes, you are correct that someday you will wish to have that little mole back in your home, but that doesn’t make the process of bedtime any less frustrating. Soldier on, all you mothers of little ones!!

  38. So funny! I love this post. But I have to admit that I love, love, love bedtime. Not so much the nightly convincing to brush teeth and put on jamas and stop playing, but the part when I lay in bed next to my sweet little daughters and read them stories and sing them songs and we all say one thing we are thankful for. It is my favorite part of my day. And it’s just a little frosting on top when they say they are thankful for Mama ;).

  39. Hilarious and oh, so true! The victory lap is the thing I most look forward to every day…but kind of felt like a jerk for admitting that. Glad I’m not alone. I feel like they “win” when they get me to read another book, lay with each of them, need one more thing (water, hug, blanket) in order to fall asleep, say prayers that really don’t make sense but have to say the same nonsense every night, ask me questions that are not satisfied with a yes or no answer and the other night at bedtime my 6 year old begins asking me about the middle finger?!? Yikes. Very well written and laughed out loud at the finger smelling!

  40. thank you for sharing that, I have a 7 year old son who makes bedtime the longest routine nightly I had the longest stressful day today and after reading this I was laughing so hard that I forgot how stressed out I was and now can go to bed and think about how tomorrow can only go better. Thank you again.

  41. I laughed so hard through this whole post. Not at your pain! But with sheer joy at your truth telling and your mad writing skills. Keep up the awesome sharing.

  42. Praise God someone wrote this down. True true, sometimes Moms and Dads just need an ever loving break!

  43. you rule.

  44. Oh my gosh, I seriously love you right now! 10:15 over here, and I’m reading this as I sit in my sons’ room because our 3 year old just woke up. I will not even attempt to tell you the nightmare that I get to deal with every night (the kids’ bedtime). Ever since our youngest learned hot to climb out of his bed at a very young age I have been captive. It sucks. So, so, so, bad. There were months of me sleeping on their floor just so they didn’t wake up their Dad. That Super Nanny would have me just keep putting the kids in bed, no eye contact, etc.. With my husband’s work schedule screaming kids is/was not an option. Things are better than they were a year ago, but oh my gosh, bedtime and potty training are enough to make a person done having kids after 2!! So thank you for writing this, even if your daughter will forever be humiliated by this post when she is older.

  45. Just read this after having one of those nights (it was NOT my night off unfortunately). I half envy those people that have kids that go right to bed and half feel bad for all of the bedtime moments they miss out on:)

  46. thank you for the funniest thing i have read in a while! you are a real mom who is brave enough to speak out.

  47. Well at least we know we’re not alone. Our 4year old HATES sleep. My husband and I have both threatened divorce during bedtime fights. I could go on for hours with bedtime drama stories, but I won’t, because I know we’re not the only ones suffering from the bedtime blues. Today I bought melatonin. My husband is strongly against it. So I snuck a dropper full into her water and I’m waiting. Patiently. And I pray to God it works because I just can’t stand bedtime.

  48. Love! Tonight was definitely one of those nights here! Hubby is on his last night shift for a month and we are feeling it here! Little man and Mommy are both at the end of their ropes! Thanks G for helping me realize, once again, that i’m not alone.

  49. Ah…you said the things all mothers think. “you suck at reading, I’m going to die”! Hahahahaha! YES! You get it G! You soooo get it. My struggle is my middle child, my daughter, the one that WILL be the death of me. Bedtime is a serious nightmare with her as she AMWAYS has questions about the complexity of life or just HAS to tell me ONE MORE THING. I grit my teeth and practically growl at her every single night! Yet she is my only daughter so I answer with as much dignity as I can muster and thank the Lord when it’s over.

  50. Real tears, and snorting, thank you! Made even funnier by the fact that I read it in bed after I thought I had whacked my last mole. Then, he called me in because he was naked- pjs were not good. God love these creative children! It’s also funny when you think you have a unique family joke (whack a mole, we thought, was our little creative metaphor for our children both at bedtime and during the night). Go figure you and probably half the world use the same metaphor, love it!

  51. OMG! We have the same children!!!

  52. Oh how I wish your kids were older so you could help me get through the teenage years!

  53. Hahaha, thank you for a laugh this evening… the smelly finger excuse was pretty darn creative! I think kids have a knack for picking the LONGEST book ever on the nights when they know you’re too tired to read it. My daughters personal favorite is “Tangled”… the book version of the movie, you can imagine how long that takes. Sadly I can recite the whole thing by heart, including song interludes. (=

  54. I love this!!! Oh how we can relate in our house. The finger smelling though is not one we’ve had here…thankfully!

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