Nobody likes to talk about how long they take to get ready. Most of us are like, “Huh? Primping? Not me, I’m a wash and go kind of gal. From the shower to the driver’s seat in 10 minutes.” This might be true on those days when I sport my frizzy mop with a halfhearted attempt at pulling it back and have my requisite feather-weight Gap thermal on with jeans and a necklace intended to make me look put-together.

No, I am not an out the door in ten person if I am actually trying. I don’t think anyone would hold it against me. What I do think is crap is the, “My kids are angels and in bed by 8,” said with a beatific look and a nod that says, “Yup, mine are good, aren’t yours?” That scenario is about  as plausible as the knockout, dressed-to-the-nines who says she doesn’t even try.

I have had people tell me that I have a unique perspective on life with kids, that I give people pause and help them to reconsider the frantic pace and relentless hunger for attention so that they can enjoy it. I cherish those sentiments from people, but it does get me to think about bedtime. I think I should give a little glimpse behind the old curtain…

Because bedtime really depends upon dinner time, indulge me the wider window.

5:30 get home

5:45 announce bedtime will be early

6:00 say dinner is gong to be in 30 minutes

6:30 say dinner in five and bedtime immediately following

6:45 yell dinner in five

6:50 announce dinner is ready

6:55 call everyone for a 2nd time

7:00 sit down to dinner

7:01-7:11 get up every 2 minutes to fetch drinks, napkins and ketchup

7:12-7:16 cajole, negotiate and warn the girls to eat

7:17 clean up a spill

7:18 agree to say grace

7:19 “do cheers”

7:20 apologize for not doing cheers with each girl twice right at the beginning of dinner

7:20 excuse girls

7:21-7:30 sponge the disaster area that is the dinner table, the floor beneath and the walls around

8:05 look at clock and curse

8:10 breathlessly brush teeth with girls after corralling them upstairs

8:15 sweat through undressing and dressing them in their pjs

8:16 start story

8:17-8:23 field questions, requests for new books and referee as they jockey for position on my lap

8:25 begin bedtime – a lullabye for each girl + one for all 3, kisses, cuddles, hugs, setting the music and nightlight, handing out sips of water, nursing Fin and requisite, “I think I have to try to pee” pleas

8:41 stagger to my bed to “go to bed early”

8:45-9 Three trips back to their room to retuck-in and shush.

10:30 carry Ave to pee again

1am Fin wakes up and comes into our bed

2am Briar has a night terror

2:10-2:20 cuddling Briar

2:40 Briar has another night terror

2:50-3 More Briar soothing

4:30am Ave joins us

4:35-4:45 listen to Ave talk about why she woke up

4:50 convince Ave to go back to sleep

5am Fin wakes up and cries for milk

6am Ave wakes up again

7am Briar comes into bed

7:01 Briar complains that everyone left her loenly

7:02 Ave and Fin begin consoling Briar over my prone form

7:03 they begin to sing

7:08 Sean takes the girls downstairs

7:30 I stumble downstairs shaking my head that I don’t feel rested after going to bed so early

It is the same each night with very little variation.

The truth in my mirror is that bedtime is hell, except of course, when it isn’t.