Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Rhythm of the Night

Last Night's Meal: Salad, grilled chicken marinated in SoyVay Teriyaki, kebob of red pepper and mushrooms from the grill, baked potatoes, bread.

Tonight's Dinner: Salad with left over grilled chicken, honey mustard dressing, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese with dinner rolls.

December 31, 2005 marked a monumental day in the life of our family. Jeff officially changed shifts. For over four years, I fed, bathed, and put the kids to bed on my own (unless he had the night off--he works six days on and three days off). First, just one--then two, and finally all three. I was up before dawn working in my office and couldn't stay up much past 9:30PM. He would sleep past 8AM and not get home until after 10PM. Beyond the normal stresses and demands small children put on a marriage, we had to contend with the craziness of this schedule.

Evening activities were out--there was no neighborhood meetings or dinner with friends unless I had a babysitter. I thought really sucked. But, he loved it. It was the best shift for rookies. Even after he gained seniority, he continued to choose "middle shift" from 1PM to 10PM. All his friends worked middle and the action was on middle shift.

I tried. I switched from cooking dinners to cooking big lunches. I occasionally would get brave and arrange a babysitter and go out, and I tried to stay awake until he got home. But, it just got old. I grew tired of it and resented the fact that I felt like he was always leaving. Things were really pushed to a breaking point with the addition of number three. I just couldn't do it anymore. I had grown short with the kids, angry with Jeff, and hopeless that things could turn around.

Finally, it became clear that changing shifts was not an option, but was a necessity if we were going to improve our marriage. I will spare you of the internal dramatics we went through to get this switch of shifts, but finally, it happened. While he is less than excited about working the day shift and misses the excitement of middle shift--I am convinced it is the right thing for our family. The boys spend the day at school or at home playing with Melissa (the nanny). I work in the day like a normal person, and so does Jeff. We meet as a family in the late afternoon.

Then, the rhythm of our night comes to life. Lately, it has been going a little something like this. I start dinner, which means Andrew comes in the kitchen and opens all cabinets that are not locked--pulling out all my pots, pans, pot lids and more. The bigger boys come in and collect pot lids for a medieval battle in the family room. Finally, we all gather around the table. After dinner, it is clean up that includes all chairs back on top of the table so Andrew cannot climb them.

After some time in the family room playing, it is up to bath. And, back down for warm Ovaltine or milkshake on the couch in jammies to watch "That's So Raven" on Disney. Or, as the boys call it (despite how many times I try and tell them that isn't the name) "Maxso Raven." We love this show and think it is hilarious. We giggle and laugh and then upstairs for stories, teeth brushing, and tuck-ins. One of us reads to Andy and one of us reads to the other boys. Andy is too wild to read with his brothers. But, when alone, he enjoys every second of story time. Plus, he probably really needs the one-on-one time.

I love evenings now and look forward to them every day. I am excited for summer to have Jeff home in the evenings so we can go for family walks, play in the yard, and go out for ice cream. Thought I would share some photos from our evening routine.


Rob said...

Sounds like my evenings with my daughters (3 and 1). Thanks for sharing. Rob

Anne said...

Glad you have back your evenings for time as a family!