Last week a mother I know posted (something similar to) this on Facebook:
Why can’t my husband see me with my children in the morning when I am full of energy and playing with the kids? Why does my lowest point of the day have to be when he gets home?
I am quite sure you can hear a roaring “amen” from the toddler mothers through out the world!
Along with responses (as her post received) similar to “I hear ya sister”, “I am praying of you momma” and “I know, my husband probably thinks I hate being a mother.”
I call it my witching hour.
Now, I looked that term up on a very reliable source (wikipedia) to find out exactly what it means and where it came from. Here is what the oh so knowledgeable people had to say:
With a modern literal meaning of "midnight," the term witching hour refers to the time of night (3:00-4:00 am is commonly speculated) when creatures such as witches, demons, and ghosts are thought to appear and to be at their most powerful and black magic to be most effective.
Do not stop reading. I do not believe (outside of movies) in witches, demons, and ghosts. And I have never tried my hand at black magic. But what I can say is after you have spent all day separating fights over who got the red marker first, changing poopy diapers, cleaning crayon off yet another wall of your house, and repeating for the millionth time “no, we are not watching Little Einsteins, right now” you quite possibly appear as a demon wanting to use a little black magic to successfully to get dinner cooked before your husband gets home. Am I right?
Now, all of you June Cleaver haters out there who are about to give me a lecture that you do all of this and work a full-time job I have to say I have been there - I know the pain and I am not trying to say that my gig is any worse than yours. Hang with me, you may benefit from what I have to say as well.
My witching hour is always right about 4:30 pm to 6 pm. That is the time of the day when I am the most tired and truly believe that my girls are so annoyed by my face. It is the time when all of the peace that may have been in my house earlier in the day has vanished, not to be seen again until 8:30 pm when everyone is snug in their beds.
My cellphone is the bell that rings marking the start of my witching hour. My hardworking husband calls during his drive home (hands-free mind you). My dear husband has an hour (maybe longer depending on Houston traffic) commute to get home each day and while I enjoy knowing that he is heading home so I can start dinner (and I know that help is on the way) this usually always signals for all three of my children (yep even the teenager) to lose their minds. Matt usually wants to unwind and download his day over the telephone (we’ve done this for years), but there are days when I have to say “I just can’t talk right now.” While he is sitting somewhat comfortably in his car, leaving his worries of the day behind, I am knee deep in finishing housework, helping with homework, and preparing dinner with the help of a three year old (who really thinks she has become Betty Crocker in the kitchen).
Now I am telling you that getting through my witching hour without it turning me witchy is something that I’ve been striving to achieve. Somedays I am successful and somedays Matt gets home to find me watching Real Housewives of somewhere and saying, “it isn’t happening today - hope you’re okay with a sandwich.” Here are a few things, though, that help during this time.
First and foremost, keep it real with your husband. Try taking a girls weekend and leaving him with all of your kids, then he will see what everyday looks like. Or for a less dramatic approach, try a little heart to heart. Ask for grace. I am quite positive that Matt did not marry me thinking that as soon as I said “I do” June Cleaver would appear. Really, even though I am all for a woman in the home and taking pride in your house (even though some weeks I don’t) we have to live in the reality that that just does not happen most days. Now, it may happen a few times a month (or if you are an overachiever a week) where your husband is greeted with a smile, a warm meal ready for him on the table, and the children playing quietly - those days should be celebrated! I mean you need to head for ice cream after dinner (and of course after the kitchen is clean).
For me personally, I feel like I am successful at the end of the day if I do not unload all of my issues as soon as he sits down his briefcase. I really do try to have him come in the house without walking in the middle of screaming (the girls, not me - most of the time) and not tripping over toys or things that have accumulated in the foyer. I am very aware that he has just spent an hour driving home from his 8 plus hour job in horrible traffic and I want him to breathe as well. At the same time, I want him to give me grace if the day did not goes as I have planned and if maybe I got stuck with my head in Facebook too long not realizing it was going to take an hour to make dinner.
The second thing that has helped me is giving myself grace! There is only one perfect parent and that’s our Heavenly Father. As I have slowly started giving up comparing my life to pictures on Instagram or other bloggers I follow I have been able to breathe, relax and realize everyone has a child that refuses to eat what you made for dinner at one time or another. Mine just happen to turn their noses up at anything but corndogs these days. Things will not always be perfect, you will work hard on a new recipe then realize as you are sitting with your family that it is the most disgusting thing you’ve eaten. That is when that random package of spaghetti and marinara sauce in your pantry comes in handy. Even Julia Child had duds somedays. So lighten up on yourself, be kind with your thoughts towards yourself during this time of day. I mean, it’s a successful day when none of your kids needed a bandaid, right?
Lastly, do something that will make you feel better about you right before your husband gets home. That could mean running a brush through your hair, throwing on a little powder and some lip gloss. It could mean lighting some good smelling candles through out the house - I love food scented ones. You might also want to try a small power clean (less than 5 minutes) of one of the main rooms of your house. I alway pick the living room because that is what we see most of the night and I can sit peacefully during dinner if my living room rug isn’t covered with toys. I also make the bed (sometimes at 4:45 pm) because that is one of my husbands things that he likes to come home to. Also, music always helps me to breathe, but not classical or toddler songs. Classical is like nails on a chalk board somedays or makes me even more tired. And really, haven’t we heard enough toddler music through out our day?
The end of the day is hard, ladies, I do think our mothers would disagree. I hope that my little tidbits about getting past my witching hour helps you. I also invite you to share your tricks to getting through the end of the day below in the comments. I would love to learn to learn from you and I bet your advice may help someone else as well.
I want to continue talking about grace - it’s an area of conviction for me lately. I find myself asking am I giving grace to my girls? to myself? to my husband? My goal is to work more on that and work at teaching my girls the gospel, not just the laws (more on that later).