Witching Hour

Since before we had kids, Jerry has always had to decompress when he got home from work. He’d come home, sit in his rocking chair for about half an hour, his hands jammed under his legs, and rock (too fast, in my opinion, but I guess that’s because I get dizzy). And then he could let his workday go. He wouldn’t be crabby or stressed or anything from the day’s activity, and even though his rocking chair ritual annoyed me on some levels, I admired his ability to meditate the day’s stresses away. I can’t do that.

Now that we have kids, he still needs to do this. However, right when he comes home from work is the WORST time of the day for it. It’s when the girls are possessed by demons and become screaming hellions, and I want to chop them into small pieces and bury them in a shoebox. Or set them on fire and throw them in the ditch. Or not. But I do wish for a traveling band of gypsies on a daily basis, specifically around the dinner hour.

So Jerry, poor thing, comes home to a stressed out wife, screaming children, and the weight of his day on him. He needs more than anything to have his usual half hour in the rocking chair so that he can face the (second half of the) witching hour. I want to let him have that. But I also want to say, “CAN’T IT WAIT?! Can’t you see I’m FREAKING OUT?!” at the same time. This, of course, is not fair. WHERE ARE THE DAMN GYPSIES?

I am a very, very lucky woman. Jerry’s job makes it possible for me to stay home with the girls, which, for the most part, is a wonderful thing for me to be able to do. I always wanted to stay home, like my mother stayed home, so that when the kids needed their mommy, their mommy would be here. And Jerry agreed. So I’m home with them. And I love it.

I just don’t love it at 5:30, when I need to clone myself so one can cook dinner, another one of me can cut up and shove food at Alice (being careful to withdraw hands quickly enough so that she doesn’t gnaw those off, too), another one can strap Helen to the kitchen chair and make her STAY there, another one can forcefeed Helen healthy foods instead of the carbohydrate diet she is wont to adhere to, and I can drink glass after glass of wine to dull the chaos.

The rest of my day is pretty predictable and I don’t mind it. The girls are pretty easygoing at lunchtime and at naptimes, and they play without screaming and whining and generally acting like banshees. But oh, my God, my God, something HAPPENS at the dinner hour. And I’m low on blood sugar at this point, which makes my ability to cope with it so much less. Tonight I had a bit of a tantrum in Jerry’s direction, and I feel bad about it.

They’re good kids, really. They’re just typical. And I know all kids have a witching hour. And I know that most kids know exactly where their parents’ buttons are and how to push them, even at a very young age. I just wish they wouldn’t doubleteam.

And this, ladies and gents, is precisely why I think I’ve hit my parental quota with two. If dinnertime with two little girls can make me insane, I don’t even want to think about my mental health with more than that. Hats off to those of you that have or want more than two. You’re my heros.

Jerry has his rocking chair; I have my sewing machine. I guess that’s fair.

4 thoughts on “Witching Hour”

  1. Aww. At least y’all understand what the other needs and try (albeit, in vain, sometimes) to make that happen. I’m with Jerry.. I have to have half an hour to myself, with no talking.

    Which, I imagine, would make marriage and children difficult. 🙂

  2. I don’t know if this would work for you guys, but about 6 months ago, I started serving the girls dinner at 4:30. I know it sounds crazy. It’s inconvenient for me, it means that during the week we don’t sit down together as a family to eat dinner, but once I started doing this, the witching hour vanished. Apparently the after-nap snack was just not enough food to rid them of the extreme crankies that appeared a little later. We then give them baths immediately afterwards (which they love) to ensure that the witching hour will not rear it’s ugly head.
    Brian and I then take turns stealing away solo moments of sanity, while the other person is playing with the kids before bedtime.

  3. Good idea, Anjali… I’ve actually done that a few times recently when Helen has been asking for chips, ice cream, popsicles, and getting increasingly whinier and whinier. So I’ve just broken out the dinner food and pretended it was a snack.

    And it has helped, that’s true. So maybe I just need to adjust my mental schedule. Dinner for them, 4:30. Dinner for us, after they’re in bed, or closer to 8:00.

  4. It’s like having a kids early bird special… every single night. The scary part is, that every since I started doing this, some nights I’m actually hungry for dinner at that time!

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