Don’t ask why

By Mir
March 10, 2005

The hardest thing for me, since returning to work, is feeling like some days I barely see the kids. I think it’s safe to say that NONE of the three of us are morning people. Sure, Monkey used to bound into my room in the mornings and exude so much raw sunshine that I would collapse into a molten heap of morning hatred, but on our new, earlier schedule even he must be dragged out of bed most mornings.

So school mornings, we spend around an hour together. I wouldn’t call it quality time. Evenings, we have about two and a half hours. Do you know how long it takes to empty backpacks and cook dinner and eat dinner and do showers and skin care and dry hair and read a story? About two hours and thirty-three minutes.

Um. Yeah.

I compensate where I can. For example, I’m really coming to appreciate my weekends with the kids. We do “movie night” or a special outing, or the ever-popular “pajama day” where we revel in our slugitude. We’re adjusting.

It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows my daughter that she is perhaps having the most trouble adjusting to recent changes. She has become (more) belligerent and quite clingy with me. Simultaneously, she’s started being quite mean to her little brother. She’s acting up in a million and one ways because that’s what she does when she doesn’t know how to express what she wants and needs. Joy.

In the meantime, I employ a babysitter one night a week so that I can attend choir practice. She comes right at bedtime so I don’t feel too guilty about going out and doing something non-essential, on my own. The kids adore her, and–most importantly–she is our neighbor, so I don’t have to figure out how to drive her home when I have sleeping children and (oh, yeah) no other adult on hand.

Tonight I put the kids to bed before the sitter arrived. As soon as the sitter knocked on the door, Chickadee came running downstairs and begged to be allowed to wave good-bye as I drove off. She promised to go right back to bed afterwards. I said okay.

She waved; I waved; I went to choir. I came home, and asked the sitter if Chickadee had held to her word and gone to bed without complaint. “Well,” she admitted, “she did ask for another story. But I reminded her of her promise and she went right up. I checked her 5 minutes later and she was sound asleep!”

I was impressed. Progress, perhaps? I bounded up the stairs with a light spring in my step. It’s been a hard week for Chickadee. I was proud of her for not giving the sitter a hard time. I would plant an extra kiss on her sleep-warm cheeks. And tell her in the morning how pleased I was that she’d been good.

My eyes struggled to adjust in Chickadee’s dark room, as I felt around on her blankets to locate her. I blinked. My eyes had adjusted… and she wasn’t in the bed. I blinked again. Checked the bed, checked next to the bed, checked the rocking chair. Checked the bathroom. Nope.


Okay, I get it. Probably she’d tiptoed down the hall and designated herself Queen For The Night in the middle of my bed. I chuckled under my breath as I headed back down the hallway. Again, I stretched out my hands over the bed as my eyes scanned the dark. Not there. Quick check of my bathroom; not there.

It was becoming a conscious effort to breathe.

Okay. The doors are locked. The sitter has been here for the two hours that I’ve been gone. She must be here somewhere.

Not in her room. Not in my room. Not in the bathrooms. Couldn’t have gotten downstairs without the sitter noticing. That leaves… one room.

I eased open the door to Monkey’s room, half expecting to find her stretched out on his floor and half expecting not to find her at all (which would be my license to Commence Freaking Out). Turned out, neither assumption came to fruition.

In the glow of the Thomas the Tank Engine nightlight, Monkey lay in his customary position at the upper left corner of his bed. He was completely uncovered, because Chickadee lay curled at the foot of his bed (with her pillow, even) in a nest of his blankets. Their knees and feet met in a heap in the middle. They were both snoring.

I was tempted to leave her there, but in the end I hefted her onto my shoulder and listened to her mutter sleep-speak in my ear while I carried her back to her room.

Tomorrow morning I will ask her what she was thinking, and she’ll shrug and maybe giggle and say “I dunno” and I’ll be left to worry and wonder. Is it because she’s not getting enough time with me? Is it because she was regretting an earlier injustice committed against her brother? Is it simply genetic?

I don’t know. I so rarely do, with her.


  1. Jenny

    Huge hugs, Mir. I think you guys are weathering the changes better than I would. Chickadee sounds so much like my oldest sometimes.

  2. Mamacita

    I think that if you wrote about the phone book or the multiplication tables, I would still find it fascinating. You are just that good.

  3. lu

    Mir, can I just say that I am completely impressed? The fact that you squeeze all that stuff into a two hour time frame is great. You guys will find your groove in no time. Not that you asked, but here’s a couple of hints from one single mama juggler extraordinaire to another: 1) We only have full on bath time every other night, 2) Rotisserie chicken, pasta, pizza, and take out are a working mama’s best friend and prerogitive 3)Don’t wait til your “kid-free” weekends to pamper yourself….stay up even just an hour later after your little ones crash to come down from your day. Have a soothing beverage of your choice, read something good, take a long, hot soak… 4) Before you fall into bed, peek in one last time at Chickadee and Monkey and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

  4. Mike

    Just the theory of a guy who’s never met her……….but I think all Chickadee was doing was seeking a little comfort from the stress of change. The fact that she found it from the proximity of her little brother is, in my mind, MORE than a little wonderful and touching. Don’t worry, Mir, you’re doing great. *hugs*

  5. alektra

    Maybe she had a bad dream and wanted to protect Monkey? Either way, it seems a nice thing she did. No worries!

  6. Delia

    Hello, I’ve been looking in on your blog from time to time as I am in a similar position to you, separated but with 4 kids. I’m still unemployed though and am taking pointers from you re: how to juggle.
    Occassionally my 2 youngest will fall asleep in the same bed and I find it incredibly sweet and proof that they really don’t hate each other ALL the time.

  7. Suzanne

    I think it’s sweet that she fell asleep with her brother. Probably just looking for some company.

    I like to refer to that one hour in the morning where I get to feel like a drill seargant, PT hour. you’re learning the militant drill…come on, get dressed soldier, you’ve got five more minutes, move it move it! Then those wonderful two hours after work and before bedtime… I lovingly refer to as “hell hour”. homework, reading, bath time, dinner, bed time…
    I feel like a schmuck most of the time because that certainly doesn’t feel like quality time to me!
    Welcome to my world. Isn’t this fun?

  8. Carmen

    Mir, my kids do that all the time. Fight like obnoxious little brats all day long, and when I go to check on them, they are sleeping in a heap together. I take it as a good sign that they still love each other, even though they bug the crap out of each other all day long.

    I’m glad that things seem to be working out for you. The night,before bed is tough, no matter if you are there all the time or not, I think. I think you are doing a wonderful job!

    From one excemza mom to another, how often are you bathing the kids? I only do my kids every other night or so, unless they are just disgusting. Lots of nights, a wet washcloth will do the trick just fine.

    Good going for you, Mir!

  9. Zuska

    Like you, I’d analyze this to death, but also like you, I’d still be unsure of my conclusion.

    Your days now sound alot like mine (but I only get about 1.5 hours with the kids in the evenings). I’m so protective of all of our weekend time, and try to cram a week’s worth of fun into 48 hours. Sometimes it works, and sometimes they want me to just. leave. them. alone!!! You’ll figure it out…eventually.

  10. ben

    I’d be interested to hear her (chickadees) comments.

    When there is stress in our house, especially a fight between parent and child, the child really really wants to sleep near us. Happened last night (mom blew up over homework, child later curled up in ball on floor next to mom’s bed)

    Maybe she just wanted to connect to somebody, and didn’t feel that type of connection with the sitter?

  11. dad

    Another sensational post!

    It reminded me of an incident where a little girl decided to curl up in the bottom of her closet and sleep peacefully, even proudly, while her parents feaked out searching the entire house and wondering how you had escaped and locked all the doors behind her.

    Sheesh! Parenting is fun.

  12. Amanda

    This is just a comment on you post about buying plane tickets… I use and it searches a bizillion airline websites and orbitz, etc. and I always get the cheapest fairs from it. Just for future reference.

  13. Karin

    It’s a tough transition. It’s true, yound children don’t require daily showers or bathing. Every other day at most unless they get filthy. This gives more time for other things. Kids can have a difficult time during transitions, and I hope things get easier as it goes for you. It’s great that you get that choir practice in, too.

  14. Psycho Kitty

    Ah, the Boy is obsessed with the idea of sleeping in his little sister’s bed–probably because he never gets to, and because I think he kinda misses her when they’re at my house (they share a room at their dad’s). Often, when I’m trying to get her to sleep, he’ll come to kiss her goodnight and whisper to her that he’ll sneak in later on, which of course I hear because the kid can’t whisper, and to which his sister heartily agrees.

  15. carson

    Without evidence to the contrary, I’d assume that she’s figuring out that having a sibling isn’t always a complete horror show. Only sometimes.

  16. Michele

    I can only guess it was that she wanted to be near and tougch someone who was family–even if it was brother.Nothing, no one not even the best babysitter in the world–is family.

    It’s going to take some time for everyone to adjust. Hugs.

  17. MollieBee

    I agree with Michele. I used to do the same thing when I was a little girl, if my parents were out, little bro was the next best thing.

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