This is one of those momma posts that has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while, waiting for my little family to grow up enough to get my head above water, gain some perspective, and breathe.
We’re just now emerging out of this season, but it’s still real enough to remember. Take heart Momma of littles. You’re not crazy, and you’re not alone . . .
There is such a thing as the witching hour.
Parents of littles can back me up on this. You know what time it hits, what kinds of crazy you’re in for, and that no one ever believes what happens to your normally sane and beautiful family in that awful period of time.
In our house it usually starts at 4PM. Mike is just home from work, peering in through the window, and by the look in my wide and pleading eyes he knows. He just knows it’s begun.
Someone is hungry. Someone is running. Someone is crying. Someone is always crying, and dinner is yet a figment of my imagination. He pauses for a moment, wondering if he should ask me why, but wisely and tensely smiles at me instead.
Somehow the children are distracted enough for food to be made and set on the dining room table, littered as it is with toys and the pile of stray papers that is my office. There are shrill and piercing questions about what is in the food, and what it’s called, and why it smells so funny, over the blaring ring of our fire alarm, if I’ve opted to use the oven.
Still the witching hour wears on. Other parents know that the crazy hour is rarely just a period of time confined to sixty minutes. We could all handle that properly, I think. Once it’s begun, it’s usually a one-way disaster train to bedtime, leaving us exhausted wondering how we ever made it to the end of the evening.
It’s in the witching hour most, that I remember the glory days.
They are fuzzy with the kind of glow that comes from rose colored glasses, or the sunshine haze of movie dream sequences. Memories of a newly married life that play out more like a script from some Pottery Barn commercial, than anything close to reality.
Mike and I hold hands as we retire to our spacious home in the middle of a wood at the end of a beautiful work-day. The two of us, stand side-by-side preparing beautifully plated meals with a table set in our newly painted dining room. We have friends over with dessert and delightful conversation, all over the soft tones of Miles Davis wafting from the living room.
Before we and our company start playing board games, something inevitably brings me sharply back to reality, like the frantic race to remove bills from the milk spilled to the far reaches of the table, or the shriek of that fantastic fire alarm again. In those moments, what I’d like more than anything else, is to go hide in the pantry with a bag of Doritos until we grow out of the witching hour all together.
Because when I’m tired, and worn down from the complexities of a long day, I forget that glory days and witching hours are so incredibly subjective.
My glory-day memories never remind me of the long days, or stressful days, or days spent apart because of Mike’s travel schedule. I forget that on most days there was no company, no fancy dessert, no board games. I never wore colored glasses and our lights didn’t come preset with movie haze.
The truth is, the glory days are not as perfect as I remember, and the witching hours will not last forever.
And that’s where I find my sanity. Right in the middle. Holding onto the hope of glory days that will emerge from this season when I am tired, stress-eating, and answering the same question at dinner for the nine thousandth time. I know bedtime is coming, as are the years they grow up, and I purpose to remain present through all the moments I can.
Hang in there. It does get better. Promise.