Evening is the most chaotic part of my day, every day.
Ideally the family will be fed, girls scrubbed, in bed and evening chores finished promptly at 8:30 so that I can sit down with my knitting and a much deserved drink.
Sounds perfect, doesn't it? Let me assure you, it rarely ever works out that way. But it's a good goal to have, no? Generally I have a success rate of about 1:30, that is to say, about once a month, it actually happens.
Evening at our house starts anywhere between four and five o'clock, depending on what I'm making for dinner. My intention is to serve dinner at six o'clock. I succeed about 50% of the time. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later, but I have a hard time hitting that 6:00 mark.
As soon as dinner is over, hopefully around 6:30, we head outside. The girls play on the swings while I do doggy duty and weed and water the garden. Then I sit down and throw the ball for the dog over and over again. I will inevitably be barked at incessantly if I try to get out of it. I have about 10 minutes to sit down and relax (while throwing that darn ball and pushing Cora and probably carrying on a conversation with Chloe about whatever sparks her interest at that particular moment.) Pretty relaxing, eh?
Around seven, we head inside and attempt to get both children scrubbed, dried, and jammified without any tears, threats or meltdowns. It's harder than it sounds. I take Cora out and dry her and get her all ready for bed while Chloe plays. If I'm lucky, she goes down for a 15 or 20 minute nap right after, affording me enough time to wash Chloe's hair and get her all settled. I'm not usually lucky, so Cora sits in the bathroom and complains the whole time, adding to the stress and the rush.
If we did manage to avoid tears all throughout bath time, we will most certainly see them as soon as I break out the hair brush and attempt to de-tangle the longest hair I've ever seen on any five year old. It's misery. I threaten daily to shave her head. If she wasn't crying from the tugging and pulling, she starts crying when I make that threat. I'm a terribly mean mother. I have a love/hate relationship with that child's hair. It's gorgeous, and a royal pain in the ass.
At this point I try to convince her to let me read The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Goodnight Moon. Instead, she insists that I read a drawn out story book with 40 pages, a full paragraph on each. Oh, how I miss the days when Goodnight Moon was a satisfying bedtime story. We manage to get through the story, usually with me standing, bouncing, wiggling, or otherwise trying to console the baby. Then it's time for hugs, kisses, Eskimo kisses, butterfly kisses, more hugs, spreading out blankets, turning on music, and lights out. Yay! Lights out! It's over, right?
Oh but no. It's not. Now it's time to wash dishes, load the dishwasher, all while trying to entertain a baby. Chloe comes out. She needs water. She doesn't drink water, but must have water on her bedside table in order to go to sleep. I take her water, and keep washing dishes. She comes back a short time later, soaking wet, because she has spilled her water. (This happens just about every night. Seriously.)
Finally at some point, I usually convince Cora that sleep really is okay. By this time I'm so tired that if I did try to knit, I'd have dropped stitches and skipped rows. I give up, and go to bed.
Amazingly, tonight went almost exactly as planned. Cora's still up, but is fairly cheerful. I've gotten some knitting done, I'm calm, relaxed, and don't feel like I might implode from stress. I like nights like tonight. On nights like tonight, I am almost convinced I really do have it all together. Until tomorrow.