After I was tucked into bed each night as a child, I remember imagining all the fun and exciting things adults had the luxury of doing because they were able to stay up past my bedtime. I can remember overhearing my parents chatter, watch television or rustle around the kitchen. In my young mind I’m sure I was convinced they were planning vacations, having parties, eating snacks and watching movies … because staying up late is always fun! Well, I’m a mother of my own children now and I have learned that staying up late isn’t always as much fun as it seemed when I was six.
Now that I have my own family, I’ve discovered the truth of what parents really do while their little ones slumber. Each night I tuck my own kids in and the “fun” begins. In the few hours between the time my kids are in bed and when I finally retire for the evening I’m on a personal mission to see how much I can accomplish and how many items I can check off of my to-do list.
As my children drift off to sleep, that’s when my race against the clock really begins and I get to do all the fun adult tasks that life requires. I have a few hours to get it all done before the day starts again. My after bedtime to-do list is ever evolving and varies from day to day. I pay bills, do laundry, wash dishes, wrap gifts, pack lunches, check schedules, answer e-mails, pick up toys, shoes, towels (you name it), change my own bed linens, meal prep, exercise … the list goes on and on and on. And then, eventually I sleep. Sometimes I really amaze myself with what I can accomplish in just a few short hours and every night I thank my lucky stars that I’m blessed with children who make bedtime easy and who sleep independently. Some nights I really just want to plop on the couch and binge watch anything but as a mother my family depends on me to keep it all together, and these few precious hours are my window of opportunity to make it all happen.
I know that right now my children have no idea what I do while they sleep, just as I didn’t as a child. I took for granted the clean, ironed clothes, perfectly packed lunches, and tidy house. Now that I’m a parent, I’m well aware that when you are just plain exhausted and just want to crawl into bed, the show must go on. Every evening, I find myself becoming more and more grateful for all the things my mother did while we slept and feel very guilty that I never thanked her then. One day, in the distant future I’m sure my children will be busily bustling around their own homes late into the night, tending to chores and caring for their family’s needs and in that moment they will be grateful for all the tasks I conquered while they were sleeping.