Can a child possibly not have a bedtime routine? Mine can go to sleep pajama-clad or in the day’s clothes. Bath or no bath. 7pm or 10pm. Snack or no snack. Song or silent. Loud or quiet. Light or dark. Story or none. Rocked or not.
Routine, she needs not.
But, if she arrives to bed (which, for her, is a portable crib in a tent – a story for another day) and finds any one piece missing, woe to the one who has been left in charge. There is no bedtime routine. There is the Bedtime Collection.
The Bedtime Collection started long before her birth. A friend told tales of her little guy requiring not one, but two, pacifiers for bed – one for his mouth and one for his hand. I chuckled inside in a totally judgmomtal sort of way. Who did she think supplied the second (and first) paci which became his trump card when he didn’t feel like some shut eye? We moms make our own beds to lie in. This was her own doing.
That conversation was but a faint memory when my third was born. Third in birth order, but firstborn among the soothed. Her older brothers took to pacifiers like they did to creamed spinach. Dramatically rejected. No pacis, no binkies, no thumbs, no blankeys, no wubbies, no loveys, no stuffies, no bears with creepy names. They refused to be soothed.
Finally, a baby with a mute button! [Did I just say that out loud?]
Having a paci-baby meant being on the other side of my own judgmomtalness. But, otherwise, it was parenting paradise.
And then I oopsed.
Putting her to bed one night, I noticed a second pacifier. In a moment of innocent apathy, I left it in the crib. The next bedtime, my swift second-paci-removal was met with a shocking discovery.
The second pacifier was now part of the gig. Forever.
One for her mouth and one for her hand.
My first order of business? A humble apology to my mom friend.
My second order of business? Hiding all potential 3rd, 4th and 5th pacifiers. Pacifiers would now live on the shelf with the Oreos and parade candy. Out of reach and out of view. This was a ‘fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’ situation.
I tried everything to kick the 2nd paci out of bedtime, but to no avail; baby girl knew and she had power. She’d lay down, put paci #1 in her mouth and reach for #2. And then wail. Those lungs can go for hours. It was a battle I chose not to fight.
A second paci was only the beginning. Her room felt drafty, graduating her to a light blanket. When she fell in love with Nemo, a stuffed clown fish was added to the Collection. With Nemo, eventually came Dory, though no one remembers how. Spring Training brought Wally Pillow Pals into our lives. The place was getting a bit crowded.
She learned to talk. She could make her demands known and know we understood. “Wawa” (water, sippy cup style) and “book” were added to the Collection. The combination of her birthday and grandparents inducted the newest member to the Collection: Doc McStuffins, whose name in toddler-speak sounds identical to toddler-speak for “ketchup,” both of which sound like “chocolate.” Bedtime has never been more confusing.
McStuffins had better be it. I shudder to think what bedtime may evolve to if the Collection and the baby cannot both fit. A King-size crib upgrade is not gonna happen.
I deserve this. Not because of a little double-paci oversight one night. Because of one mini moment of judgment on a fellow mom.
One of many.
Even before becoming a mom, I had plenty of harsh mom judgments. I lived my first year of motherhood on a steady diet of my own words.
You’d have thought I’d learned my lesson. But judgment (my definition: critical opinion formed by comparison or evaluation) is sneaky, subtle and sweeping. I often default to comparison and the only way to feel good in that arena is to come out ahead. Enter in: judgment.
In the parenting world, there just isn’t room for it. Parenting is complicated and challenging. Kids are unique and unpredictable. No two circumstances of parenting are fit for comparison. Judgment has no place.
Simple as that.
Seems I need my two-fisted paci-collecting tot to remind me there is no room for collecting judgment in my mom world. It gets crowded in there and it’s impossible to keep up. Eventually, either me or the Collection gets the boot.
Boot – oh dear, no, do not let her get the idea that she needs shoes in her Bedtime Collection. May it never be…