I look at the clock—8:27 pm. One of my kids is sound asleep, another is reading in her bed, and the third is babbling in her crib. She yells “Mommy” every so often to ensure I’m listening to her on the monitor. Of course, I’m listening. I have approximately two hours to squeeze in “adulting” once the kids are in bed.
I feel the anxiety rise in my chest. I have a list of things I need to accomplish, but even when I write them down, I feel like I’m forgetting something.
I walk down the hallway and assess the damage that was done during the day. We’ve all been home for break, and the house is a disaster. I throw the pillows and blankets back on the couch. I place the snack bowls and sippy cups in the sink. I ignore the plastic dinosaurs and baby doll accessories that stick out from various pieces of furniture. I’m tired, so that’ll do.
I enter the kitchen and sigh at the mountain of dishes left over from multiple meals and a batch of homemade cookies. To save hot water for baths and showers for five people, I refused to run the dishwasher earlier, and now I’m left with the mess. My husband tells me he’ll empty and reload it once he’s done working out, so that’s one task off of my list. As Monica and Ross say on Friends, “Check.”
I walk to the laundry room, where laundry awaits. I throw one load of towels onto the couch and put a load of sheets into the dryer. I fold the towels and put them away.
I go to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. I get as far as pulling the mug of hot water out of the microwave when one of my kids cries for me. I quickly put the tea bag in the water and hope that I remember to come back for it.
With the kids back in bed, I remember to go back for my mug of tea (“Check!”), and then I head for my bedroom. In the pit of my stomach, I feel like I have a bill to pay or some paperwork to file, and sure enough, my instinct is right. I can’t do this without my husband’s information, so I text him from our bedroom, and he comes up from the basement to help me. I feel my anxiety creeping in again, guilty for making him stop what he’s doing because I only remembered to do this at the last minute.
A pile of unread books sits on my nightstand, but I need to finish my work first. As a work-from-home mom, work happens at any time of day, and tonight that is after bedtime.
I go into the bathroom to get ready for bed. Truthfully I’ve been in my pajamas since 4 pm after an afternoon shower, so there’s not much left to do, but it feels good to brush my teeth before getting back in bed, where I will inevitably fall asleep watching TV.
9:30 pm. I contemplate picking up a book now, but my eyes are tired from working, and I have a feeling my oldest will be in my room any second now to ask me to lay with her. I flip on the TV instead.
I remember that Gap is having a sale today, and I have a gift card, so I grab my phone from my nightstand to start browsing. Once on said phone, I also open Instagram, Facebook, my email, and Instagram again. If my eyes were hurting before, now they are hurting even more.
Nighttime scrolling? “Check.”
9:57 pm. My husband gets in bed. I’d like to be asleep by 10 pm, but this means I’ll have three minutes of quality time with my husband beforehand, so I make myself stay awake.
I set my phone on my nightstand, and we put on a show we can watch together. Just then, my oldest daughter crawls into our room (literally) as if we can’t see her, and one of us lies with her until she falls asleep. It is nearly two hours past her bedtime, but it’s winter break she says she’s not tired enough to fall asleep.
10:30 pm. My husband realizes he forgot to do the dishes.
By the time he gets back to our room, I’m sleeping. I wake up startled as he turns off the TV, and I predictably say, “No, wait, I’ll stay up and watch it with you!” He knows that’s not true. We go to sleep.
Exhausted. Frazzled. Hearts full. Never bored. We’ve made it through another day.