Category Archives: bedtime

The Night Time

As you may already know, one of my essays was published at Mamalode last week.  It’s called “The Meaning Of No,” and it’s about the repetitive battles we have with our kids over the (four letter) word “no.”

It’s my first big effort to get my work seen by a larger and influential audience, and I’m super excited about the potential for future writing opportunities.  You can read the essay and like it and share it and comment on it and do a happy dance about it –> HERE <–.

Coincidentally, the theme of bedtime in our house is “No.”

No, I will not sleep in your bed with you.

No, you cannot sleep in my bed.

No, you cannot fall asleep on the couch.

We have this one amazing, talented, expert sleeper of a kid.  He goes to sleep when he’s tired.  He uses technology in bed, but he shuts it off when he’s ready to close his eyes.  He sleeps ALL night long IN his bed with the lights OFF, and when he wakes up in the morning, he brushes his teeth before coming into the kitchen to say cheerily, “Good morning!”

Then there’s the other kid.  The one who makes us feel bat s—t crazy at the end of the night when we have nothing left to give and just want to watch “Modern Family” and eat Chinese food, for Pete’s sake!  He’s the squishy little one who we transfer again and again night after night from the couch to his bed and from our bed to his bed only to have him return again.  And again.  And again.

We try. We really do.  We’ve done charts and stickers and rewards and punishments, and we’ve had some successes along the way.  But here’s the thing.  This squishy kid – who’s becoming less and less squishy, by the way – has been sucking the oxygen out of the room at bedtime since the day he was born.

Speaking of getting all of the attention, this adorable bedtime menace of ours has written a book.  Whereas I have ventured into the world of publishing cautiously and slowly with one essay, he has singlehandedly written, illustrated, and self-published a book.  He did the whole thing in less than fifteen minutes and he even used the stapler by himself. (Show-off.)

The book is called “The Night Time: Riley Is Night Book,” and it explains a lot.


“The Night Time: Riley Is Night Book”


“Night was scary.”


“It was scary.”


“They sneaked out of there room.”

That’s the end of Riley’s book, but it’s definitely not the end of “The Night Time” in our house.  Alas, that story is to be continued…


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Filed under bedtime, book, parenting

Because I Do Awesome Things


It started when I said, “Dylan, the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner you’ll be seven!”

Last night was the last night he would be six. Ever.

“Shut the light off!” he said immediately, but not before telling me and Riley that he would live to be 350.

“That’s really old, ” I said.

“No,” he said, “I mean 1,000!”

“I hope I live that long, too,” I said, “but that’s really, really old.”

“Will Dylan be in people heaven when he’s 1,000?” Riley interjected.  “I’ll miss him,” he said quietly.

For a split second, I wondered what to say.  I quickly realized I had no idea what to say, so I said, “Yes, but we’ll all be in people heaven in 1,000 years.  We’ll all be together.”  Then I tried to finish the conversation, because I meant to talk about Dylan’s birthday but ended up talking about death.  Of course.

“Okay, Dylan McMillan McSchmillan, go to sleep so you can turn seven.  I love you.  Good night.”

I turned off the light.  Dylan’s head hit his pillow, and Riley walked down the hall and climbed into my bed.  That’s the way bedtime rolls in our house.  Riley climbs into my bed and falls instantly asleep only to be moved back to his bed either by Mike (if he’s working late) or me.   The boy cannot-will-not-refuses to fall asleep in his own bed, but let’s ignore the dysfunction otherwise known as bedtime in my house, because that’s not what this post is about.

Before Riley closed his eyes, he had a few more questions about death and dying.  Of course.

“Mommy, will I go to people heaven someday?”

Crap.  “Yes, but it will be a long, long, long, long, long time from now.”

I saw his face turning sad.  “I’ll go to people heaven someday, too, and we’ll be there together.  And do you know what, we’ll get to see Harry.  Because dogs in dog heaven visit people in people heaven.”

“I miss Harry,” he said.

“Me, too.  I miss him every minute of the day, but do you remember where we carry people we love?” I asked.

“In our hearts,” he said.

“Right.  So, even though I can’t see Harry anymore, he’s in my heart.  I feel him and all of the people I love in my heart.  He’s in your heart, too.  Do you know what?”

“What?” he asked.

“Sometimes when you’re at school, I think about you and I miss you, and then I feel you in my heart, because I love you, and then I feel better,” I said.

“And Grandma and Grandpa?  Are they in my heart?”

“Yup.  Both Grandmas and both Grandpas.  Even when Daddy is at the office, we feel him in our hearts.  Everyone we love – whether they’re in heaven or here on Earth – is in our hearts.  Your heart, my heart, Dylan’s heart, Daddy’s heart, Harry’s heart…”

I rubbed his chest where his heart is, and we named all of the people he loves.  It took a while.

“Go to sleep, Monkey.  It’s late.”  I said.



“Are you in your heart?”

And all of a sudden, we weren’t talking about the people we love.  We were talking about loving ourselves.  My little boy wanted to know if I loved myself.  I paused.  I laughed nervously.  I opened my mouth, but nothing came out.  What was it about that simple question that was so hard to answer?  I wasn’t sure if I believed what I was about to say anymore than I was sure about everything I said about death and dying and heaven, but I said it anyways.  “Yes, I’m in my heart.”

I felt awkward.  I felt afraid.  I felt confused for not knowing for sure.

“Riley, are you in your heart?”

Without hesitation he said, “Yes.”

“Why are you in your heart, Riley?”  Maybe his answer would help me figure out mine.

His response was, “Because I do awesome things.”

I chuckled.  “You’re right, Monkey.  You do awesome things all the time.  Now go to sleep.”

I hope he feels that way until he’s 1,000 years old.

p.s.  Happy 7th Birthday, Dylan.  You do awesome things, too.

Are you in your heart?


Filed under bedtime, birthday, death, grandparents, guilt, Harry, heaven, Uncategorized


On Sunday night at bedtime, Riley roamed around the house repeating, “I can’t sleep without my brudder. I can’t sleep without my brudder.” It was heartbreakingly adorable. It was adorably heartbreaking.

Dylan has decided he wants his own room. This is big news for a few reasons, the first of which is that our house is small. I mean, it’s not that small. It has three bedrooms, but in my real estate fantasy, I’d have four bedrooms, four bathrooms, two offices (his and hers), a mud room, a craft room, a play room, a safe room (not for hurricanes but for when I need an “I’m going to hurt my children if I don’t hide with a glass of wine for a bit” time-out), a carpentry workshop, a man cave, an outdoor kitchen, a storage room, an IT room for the electronic crap equipment that’s currently buzzing and taking up too much space in my bedroom closet, a padded room for light saber fights, a guest house for my parents, and, last but not least, a wine cellar. But I digress. We have three bedrooms and none of the other stuff, and that isn’t going change anytime soon, which is fine except I’ll never stop pining for a craft room. Never!

A few years ago, the boys shared a room during a summer vacation. It went (mostly) swimmingly, so when we returned home, we made the boys permanent roommates. They’ve (mostly) peacefully shared a bedroom for two years, which has allowed us to use the third bedroom as a guest room, a storage room, and the official headquarters of The Runaway Mama.

Sidebar: We call the third bedroom Harry’s room because he spends most of his time in there lounging on the bed, staring out the window, sleeping, and farting.

It’s been a good set-up – the boys sharing a room, me having an office space, my parents having a place to sleep when they visit, and Harry having a spot to nap and fart, but like most set-ups (i.e. rhythms, schedules, routines, and habits) related to children and child-rearing, as soon as you get the least bit comfortable, they change. It’s the nature of the beast.

The second reason Dylan’s request for his own room is big news is that it was totally and completely his decision. Dylan and Riley are two years and four months apart. When Riley was born, and he was a teeny pooping, eating, and sleeping lump, their age difference was a big deal. Somewhere around the time Riley turned two, though, their age difference became less apparent, or less of an obstacle.

Riley gave up baby-hood early. He walked at ten and a half months, refused to sit in a stroller by the time he was one, and moved from the crib to a bed and gave up naps before he turned two. (I still hold a grudge about the naps.) Dylan, on the other hand, clung to baby-hood for dear life. His fears and anxieties (SPD-related) slowed him down. Not only were the boys similar emotionally, but also physically. They played well together and even shared some clothing. On a few occasions, I was asked if they were twins!

Presently, at ages four and six, the boys share socks, but other than that they are beginning to drift apart. During this life-changing (for all of us) Kindergarten year, Dylan has leaped ahead academically, emotionally, and socially. He reads. He rides big yellow school buses. He sings, “So-and-so and so-and-so, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.” Whereas Riley still likes baths, Dylan prefers showers. Whereas Riley is still content with animation, Dylan loves seeing action-packed, 3D superhero movies. Whereas Riley still enjoys shows like “Dora the Explorer,” “Doc McStuffins,” and even “Lalaloopsy” (shh…don’t tell anyone), these “girly” shows cause Dylan to make contorted faces, roll his eyes, shout “Ewww!” and bury his face in a pillow.

With two boys close in age, we’ve had a household-wide sharing policy about toys, books, television, and, well, everything. This has been (mostly) a good thing, but Dylan is beginning to want some ownership of his things and his space.

There were a few times along the way when Mike and I thought about giving the boys separate bedrooms. It wasn’t fair for Dylan to have to endure Riley’s bedtime and/or 4am hysterics or for Riley to have to endure Dylan’s need to sleep with all of the lights on, but we hung on for selfish reasons (my office!) and because, despite the occasional hiccups, the boys liked being together. That, and Dylan wasn’t ready. If we ever mentioned separating them, Dylan would be the first one to say, “No, I don’t want to sleep alone.”

Now, he’s ready. He no longer needs flood lights to sleep, he’s not afraid to get in and out of his bed in the middle of the night or in the morning, and, most importantly, he wants privacy. He’s so excited about the move that’s he’s already started playing and sleeping in his future new room, which prompted Riley’s sad Sunday night announcement, “I can’t sleep without my brudder.”

Admittedly, Riley’s distress caught us by surprise. We sometimes get so wrapped up in Dylan’s challenges and triumphs that we forget about Riley’s. Sharing a room with Dylan is all he knows, but I’m happy to report he’s already adjusting, especially since we promised to make his room feel new. (In other words, we promised to buy him new stuff.)

Alas, Harry’s room will soon become Dylan’s room. There’s furniture to move and rearrange, accessories to purchase (Shopaholic Mama on a mission!), and a new routine to adapt. Wondering where my office will go? The hall closet. True story. I’m actually going to turn a closet into an office, which is funny because I often want to hide in a closet and now I can. The “renovation” will involve lots of shopping at The Container Store, a fresh coat of paint, copious amounts of decorative owls, and, if I have my way, a small wine refrigerator. Ha! Stay tuned for more posts and pictures of this project. (DIY Mama!)

The timing of Dylan and Riley’s needs and wants, likes and dislikes, and interests and activities will draw them together and pull them apart throughout their lives, but one thing that will never come undone (besides their everlasting love and adoration for their Mama) is their bond to one another. Even when they bicker. Especially when they bicker. Because they are brudders.


Do your kids share a room?


Filed under bedtime, boys, brothers, Harry, sensory processing disorder, Shopaholic Mama, shopping, wine