Is Everyone Else's House Blowing Up at 5 p.m.?

They call it the witching hour. Well I’d like to expelliarmus the power right out of 5 p.m. and disarm its wand. This witch has gots to go.

It really isn’t fair, is it? We spend all day fighting the good fight, wiping butts and taking names, and then right at the finish line, right when we should be patting ourselves on the back for a job well done, all heckballs break loose, everyone needs us at once, and we somehow manage to burn spaghetti. How do you burn spaghetti? The witching hour, that’s how.

I can be Calm Mom all day long, roll with the proverbial punches, and let the chaos wash over me, but by 5pm, everything comes to a head, like a giant oozing pimple. After hours of holding it together like a boss, like a Mom Boss, someone spills their milk, another refuses to clean up the craft bin they exploded all over the kitchen table, someone else will not quit shout-singing Taylor Swift, and I burst forth and spew. (This is a disgusting image. I wish I could think of lovelier ways to describe my rage monster besides spewing oozy pimples, but we are in full-on adolescence over here so this is where I am.)

Screw Vegas. Can we all just agree that what happens at 5 p.m., stays at 5 p.m.? It’s too much. I’ve pinpointed these reasons for the 5 p.m. vortex of pain:

Everyone wants to eat dinner. What is this? Why do they expect food every night? Isn’t anyone still super proud of me for pulling it out of my ass last night? (Note: No food was actually pulled from any asses. No asses were harmed or in any way involved in the making of this food. The same cannot be said for the eliminating of the food, in which case asses were definitely involved. Everybody poops, and certain kids who will remain nameless like to narrate the experience for the whole family. We really are living the dream.)

Kids are tired. Whether the littles are in that tweener spot between naptime and bedtime or the biggies are exhausted from school and texting at their frenemies, every child is tired at 5 p.m.

We are tired. I conduct a symphony of sports practice runs each day, and around 5 p.m., I’m swinging home to ladle something into a bowl, shove a cheer bow on a ponytail, or race around the house in a breathless hunt for [insert rogue sports apparel] while answering questions about homework, permission slips, and whether or not putting mayonnaise on your hair will make it grow two inches overnight which they heard at school and are convinced is a real thing.

If your kids are younger, you are tired from holding 40 extra pounds of lava hot human strapped to your midsection, changing one million diapers, and going to the bathroom with an audience wanting to know if Mommy pees out of her butt. No matter how old our kids are, we are tired.

Five p.m. is the witching hour, when our nerves are fried, our defenses are destroyed, and everything is guaranteed to go haywire. It’s not just me, is it? Instagram indicates that everyone is calmly wearing white while eating non-burned spaghetti in a world without stains, but in our house it’s not a family gathering unless someone is screaming and sometimes that someone is me.

Listen, we all know we’re supposed to value family dinner and togetherness. And I do. It’s important. Gathering around the table with your kids a few times a week apparently keeps them off drugs and is a sure ticket into Harvard. This is a scientific fact. (I can’t back that up.) But maybe we don’t have to be good at it. I think we can eat dinner together and kinda suck at it. It’s come-as-you-are around here, and we do the best we can, grumpy and so, so done for the day. We try to have some semblance of a decent conversation involving highs and lows, but inevitably one of the kids is out of a seat, one throws half a hot dog at someone, and one goes into timeout for flagrant farting.

I feel like an air traffic controller at 5 p.m., with people whizzing around my face like incoming planes and everybody talking at once. Add in a hot stove and bellies to feed and it’ll bring out the witch in anyone, and not even her highness Hermione Granger can find the spell to make it right.

It’s okay to close your eyes and breathe, hide in the bathroom for a few minutes, or step outside and stare at a tree. You’re fine. Everybody else’s house is blowing up at 5 p.m., too. Sometimes the chaos washes over us, and sometimes we join in. Sometimes we burn the spaghetti.

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