It's 6:45 P.M. on a Monday night, dinner has been served, dinner has been rejected, mandarin oranges have been offered instead. And now, it's time. It's time for the most joyous and most painstaking routine of the day: bedtime. After piling all the toys we must bring to bed with us in my hands, arms, and under my chin, we head upstairs taking special care to lay down on every step along the way. Heading up one flight of stairs takes 5 minutes. Finally, we reach my son's bedroom. It takes another minute to open the door because he must open the door himself. We get inside and another five minutes are spent watching my son undress himself because he must do it himself, diaper included. After we play the Russian Roulette of letting him walk stark naked to the bathroom, hoping my carpet doesn't get sprinkled on the journey, we start the bath water. "Mommy, it's TOO HOT!" "Brrr, too cold!" He's finally in and wet when he needs to go pee-pee potty, NOW. It doesn't happen. He gets back in the tub, lathers up with shampoo and here it comes, the tsunami. I'm now drenched. Literally soaking, from head to toe. Both now wet and smelling of Johnson & Johnson, we sing songs, play house with travel sized shampoo bottles, and race imaginary competitors in a swim meet. Will wins. I come to the rescue and scoop out all the imaginary spiders in the tub that caused my son to jump out like the water has turned to lava. After taking out the "spiders" three more times, I determine that bath time is over. The next 20 minutes are spent getting on and off the pee-pee potty. My biceps are burning from lifting him onto the porcelain throne but finally, we have victory! Pee-pee M&Ms are issued and shared with Buzz Lightyear (all food MUST be shared with Buzz Lightyear). Teeth are brushed, or rather, the toothpaste has been sucked off the bristles, and we head back to Will's room. "No Diaper" is screamed for 5 minutes. No matter how many times I tell him that he can't go to bed naked, he continues to fight the good fight. It feels like I'm negotiating a war deal, not trying to get my kid to wear undergarments. We finally agree on a deal. Tonight he will be wearing a diaper underneath Lightening McQueen underwear. Whatever works, right? We're in bed. "No Paw Patrol water," he says, "orange water!" I trade out one water bottle for the other and we settle in for story time. "Just three stories tonight," I say as my son slyly nods his head, already planning his scheme for more as he pulls out tonight's lineup. We have read Green Eggs and Ham, Peanut Butter and Cupcake, and are finishing up The Giving Tree when I start feeling the pull. The pull between all the things that await me downstairs (a dishwasher needing to be unloaded, a dinner that needs to be cleaned up, and a hot cup of tea and a good book) and the desire to stay exactly where I am, forever. My heart is aching for it to never end and I seriously consider just spending the night in bed with him.
He snuggles in close, caresses my face and whispers, "Mommy, I love you. So Much. A lot."
All my frustration melts away, tears well up in my eyes, and I smile. "Just a few more minutes," I think to myself. While it was a wild night, it won't always be like this so I kiss his cheek, hug him a little tighter, lay my head down next to his, and forget about the dishes in the sink for just a little while longer.