Another glimmering upside to Life With Tween.

The nicest part of living with another grown-up – back when Jeff was living with me, and then when Kim was visiting for three weeks at Christmas – wasn’t just the peace of mind that comes (for anxious-type people) with knowing there’s another grown-up in the house that you can bounce ideas off of, whether it’s a tor:con alert, a dog barking under your window and scaring you witless at 1:30 a.m., or planning out the week. Those were all nice, but they weren’t the nicest part. The very nicest part was getting to go to bed whenever I needed to.

Those who have read the blog for any length of time know about my battle with insomnia. It pairs really well with my anxiety. (Damnit, where’s that sarcasm font?) Before Jeff, I’d hit a brick wall, finally be ready for sleep – invariably at 6:30 p.m. some random evening – and the girls would whine that they didn’t want to go to bed early that night! And, true, as the girls got older and were able to handle 9 p.m. bedtimes, it seemed silly to ask them to shutter themselves in their rooms at 8 p.m. Especially when I couldn’t really let go of my issues long enough to trust them to notice when it was bedtime and turn off their lights. So one of us always ended up mad that they couldn’t get to do what they wanted. And usually that was me, because I’m a good mama.

The first time I hit the brick wall after Jeff moved in, I told the girls I had to go to sleep and I met with the chorus of groans and pleading…and I explained that Jeff was there and they could stay up until they noticed it was bedtime or he reminded them. And cheers went up over the land! I got sleep, they got freedom. It was lovely.

Last night wasn’t exactly one of my infamous brick walls. What happened was that my tween wanted to watch the Golden Globes on the “good” TV in the living room, and my other girl-child rolled her eyes and asked if she could watch “real” TV in the front room. It worked out well. I remembered caring more about awards shows when I was in junior high and high school (at least until I met my crowd in high school that was against such blatant popularity contests) because they were all everyone talked about. I wanted to make that possible for Gracie. At first I imagined sitting in there with her, not caring but working on my cross-stitch quilt, sharing the evening with her at least. I remember my mom doing that for me. But me and live TV, man – it just doesn’t work. After I left and dragged myself back three different times, I gave up the ghost and crawled into my bed to read.

Much to my delight, Bee-girl asked if she could get one of her new books she got for Christmas and come read with me. So we got all pajamafied, grabbed our books, and crawled beneath the covers of my bed. Bee and I read for an hour…and that’s when it happened. My eyes started drifting shut. I fought it as long as I could, but that’s still an hour more reading than I’ve gotten most nights lately! Eventually I reminded Bee that she had to get up early the next day. It was 15 minutes before her “school night” bed time. She needed to brush teeth and start getting ready for bed.

Gracie, on the other hand…that’s where this glimmering upside sort of snuck in. I could have made her shut off the TV. But she rarely asks to stay up, and I really do remember how important staying in touch with such things was for me at that age. I don’t want my kiddos to be odd-man-out at school. So I dangled the carrot of opportunity: I would let Gracie stay up and watch another 30 minutes of the awards, if she promised to put herself to bed at 9:30 p.m. and shut off all the lights.

You would have thought I offered baby girl the moon.

Bee went to bed without complaining (it helped that she really didn’t care about the stupid awards)(and I suspect because she’d just had heaps of one-on-one time with Mama), Gracie swore she’d do what she needed to do, I set the alarm and reminded the Gracie-girl not to let the dog out again…and then I put myself to bed, too. I read for maybe 20 more minutes, but then I was out like a light! When I woke up an hour later, I sat up in bed to see if I could see the lights from the living room peeking under the door – but all was pitch black. I got up to check, just in case. The lights were off, the TV was off (all 37 buttons worth, good gravy is that system complicated) and the thermostat was where it was supposed to be.

All was well.

Gracie-girl keeps growing up; every time I turn around there’s another milestone. I don’t remember when my bed time outpaced my mom’s for the first time, but I certainly remember many nights in high school when she’d wish me a good night and go off to bed, leaving me to shut down the house. Seems like those days are just about here at Casa de Katie, too.

Good god, they grow up fast.


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