When I say, “the witching hour,” I’m not talking about some spooky hour in the inky blackness when supernatural creatures roam the earth making the time ripe for witchery. I’m referring to the common parlance of parents of young children who are all too familiar with the early evening fussiness of babies.Early evening, you may know, generally coincides with adults returning home from work, kids heading to and from after-school activities, and preparing and eating dinner.
Even though our youngest is firmly beyond the baby stage, this “witching hour” remains the most frustrating part of my day.
It begins when I eye the clock, realizing all the things I’ve yet to accomplish before the big kids get off of the school bus. I’m not sure if I gravitate to deadlines because I’m a writer or I’m a writer because I gravitate to deadlines. Either way, it’s how I roll.
As I scramble to knock things off of my to-do list, the big kids come home, starving and emptying their backpacks. Lunch bags are dumped at the sink. Jackets are thrown over furniture.
Spying food, the little kids are suddenly voracious. I prepare serial snacks and drinks while I respond to various papers needing signatures thrust into my face. (Have children always needed so many signatures on papers or is this a recent educational fad?)
The food is gobbled and homework ensues at about the same time as multiple requests for screen time. Then the homework questions begin. And, oh look – it’s time to start dinner!
This is also the time, if my husband has been out on appointments, he arrives home to complete his work. Cue additional chaos at Daddy’s entrance, more paper thrusting, potty training reports, etc. Typically, there is a failed attempt or two at communicating with my husband, which results in raised voices and frustration.
I know I could manage this better. I could get items on my to-do list done earlier along with meal prep and have snacks ready to go. I could try to get the little ones occupied with something before the big kids return. I could lower expectations and plan on talking to my husband around midnight, when the house is quiet. Maybe it would create smoother sailing.
Or maybe those crucible hours are the hours I need to be most attentive to my vocation. To ask God to come to my assistance. To welcome home the people I love with food to nourish their bodies and love to nourish their hearts and souls. And maybe that happens despite the surrounding chaos that leaves me feeling discouraged and out of sorts.
Because when “the witching hour” arrives, my little flock returns home, and I know the people most precious to me are safe and nearby. And for now, we’re in the place we all call home.
Do you recognize “the witching hour” in your house? Do you have any coping mechanisms?
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