Every day, without fail, 11 pm rolls around and I am an entirely different woman. I think it’s important that I use that word – entirely – seeing as it has “tire” right in the middle and surely that contributes greatly to the change. So yes, I’m tired but at 11 the house is finally quiet enough that I can think. I can see and hear all of my many transgressions and shortcomings as a wife and mother and I sift through them carefully.
I shouldn’t have snapped at Tess like that.
I should’ve really listened to Philip tell me about Minecraft.
I should’ve let Gemma splash in the bubbles/cut up the paper/have a third breakfast.
I can see and hear my children for who they really are and who they are trying to be, too. The quiet at 11 pm allows for reflection and feelings and a soft and forgiving heart, at least towards them.
This 11 pm woman stands in stark contrast to the 11 am lady of the house. At 11 am I am frantic and frazzled. Usually I’m still trying to force us towards some semblance of forward motion. I am exasperated, over-whelmed, short-tempered and rough tongued. It is me, most often, at the edge of my worst.
And the 12 hours in between? Those are spent worrying about what is next and how to herd this passel of cats in that direction. I am distracted and half-present, standing 50% in this moment and 50% in the next.
I like to think that the knowledge of this dual (triple? Lord, help me!) personality is some sort of victory. That the awareness of the difference will actually add up to some real change one day. Most nights, after my hand-wringing and totaling up the cost of future therapy for each of my children, I make a resolution. I promise myself that tomorrow will be better. I’ll remember to be that 11 pm mom. I’ll look them in the eye and say more yeses and fewer nos. I’ll remind myself that life isn’t a race and that our days aren’t dictated by anyone but us and our needs. I’ll forgive more, help more, love more. I will be wiser, gentler, kinder. And I will speak encouragement and hope – yes, abundant hope because that’s the gift 11 pm wants so badly to give to that same hour in the am.
Hope! It will be there tomorrow. Let the woman I am then find it.