I imagine our bedtime rituals were no different than anyone else’s with young kids: “Get your pajamas on,” “Brush your teeth,” “Go to the bathroom,” hugs and kisses all around as you tuck them in. Then, finally, the gift of all gifts – me time. Ahhh.
Flopping your tired self onto the recliner, you lazily pull the lever back and prop your legs up, feeling that amazing rush as blood flows back into your weary legs. You sigh the sigh of the contented. Now then, where’s the clicker. Crap! It’s on the couch cushion. You heave a deep sigh and shake your head, giving kudos to those past TV watchers who had to walk all the way to the box itself. ‘Course, you think with a wicked grin, they only had three channels so they probably didn’t have to get up much. Snort.
Settling yourself once again, you suddenly hear whispers and giggles coming from the other room. “Hey you in there, it’s bedtime. Stop talking and go to sleep!” More giggles. You smile at their sweet sound, then get annoyed five minutes later when it’s still going on. Calgon, take me away!
Here’s where the story becomes all mine…
Finally, all is quiet. My body is nearly fooled into thinking it’s sleeping and I’m staring dazedly at the TV. Suddenly I hear little feet pounding and a burst of laughter. It’s too loud. Those kids aren’t in bed! Turning my head I see their little heads pearing out of the bedroom door. Caught, they laugh all the louder. “Mommy, we saw you picking your nose!” Ha ha ha.
BUSTED!! I hadn’t even noticed I was doing it. Ugh! “I was not!” I lie right to their faces.
“Yes you were. We watched you!” More laughing.
I feel my face burning. I’m mortified. “Why aren’t you in bed? You’re supposed to be sleeping. Get back in bed!” Anything to stop the embarrassement. Giggling, they stampede back into bed.
A little background info might be needed here. Growing up, of course, there was laughter and joking around in my family. But, being a girl, I guess it seemed natural to notice the females in my family more. My mother, her mother, and even her mother tended to be on the more stern, serious side. They were very by the book. Rules were rules, and you followed them. If you didn’t, well, you found out why that was a bad idea. If they said, “Jump!” you jumped. And you didn’t ask why or how high. So, call it inevitable that I would pick some of this up and use it.
This night, however, my instructions for the kids to stay in bed, their decision to do otherwise and the silliness that followed, would change how I saw my place as a mother. Always trying to impress those women in my family with my parenting skills, trying to be as “businesslike” as they, made me not me. For the first time, I realized, I’m an adult now. These are my kids. This is my family. This is my home. I can do things the way I want to do them. I appreciated their raising, their everlasting advice, but they had their turns. Now it was mine.
The weight that was lifted off of my shoulders at that moment was unspeakable. There was a whole new sense of freedom – in all aspects of my life. No more ritualistic household cleaning (now only frantically done when guests are coming), no more five course meals that are mostly wasted (unless it’s a special occassion, or I just flat out feel like it), no more unbending rules for the kids (except keeping your fingers out of light sockets, and such), no more worrying so much about what others think about you (still working on that one), but, instead, I’ve learned to relax and laugh (almost always).
Getting caught picking my nose, though gross – and I know who to blame for this atrocity (Dad!), started a new enjoyment of my kids. Now, I seek to entertain my kids at MY expense. Sometimes it’s not always intentional, but those make even better moments. I’m not afraid to laugh at myself, or have them laugh at me. I’ve stopped worrying about parenting structure, and instead concentrate on just being a parent.
My kids are in their twenties now and they still bring up that nose-picking night. It was a great memory to them to see their mom behaving so “human.” Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been strict with them at times. They do need boundaries. But, being a mom seems to have been a lot calmer experience for me than that of the previous moms in my life.
Getting into bed that nose-picking night I, too, was giggling. And we’ve been giggling ever since.