In Israel it's chamsin season. This means that for weeks on end we endure an oppressively hot, dry wind. When we are really lucky, the wind comes with sand mixed in. And in our house, it's tantrum season. After a wonderful visit from the grandparents, they have now gone back home, Daddy is back at work, and only Mommy's here to hold down the fort. The 4:2 adult to child ratio that we enjoyed during their visit made for very contented and even a little spoiled children. But now it’s back to real life and everyone is crying.

When Mommy dresses someone in pajamas, someone has to wait. When Mommy brushes someone's teeth, someone else has to wait (or maybe brush her own teeth?).

What I do is get the job done Yesterday, I thought I was doing a great job at bedtime until the meltdown occurred. Then I wondered: what could I have down to prevent this? And despite my high propensity for Mommy guilt, the real answer came to me – nothing. I can't do what four adults can do. I can't even do what two can do.

I'm just Mommy. I'm not the most fun. I'm not the most playful. What I am is the most constant. I don't take days off, and I don't take coffee breaks. Sometimes I don't even get bathroom breaks. What I do is get the job done. If we are lucky, it gets done with kisses and tickles. If we are not, it gets done with a bit of an edge. But it gets done.

I don't get to hand the kids over when they are bratty, tired, or out of control. I get to take a deep breath, and try again. Sometimes I give them a time-out. Sometimes I take a time-out myself. I go into my room and lock the door, while they stand on the other side, pounding on it for me to come back.

My kids love the extra attention they receive during family visits. They enjoy the chaos of disrupted routines. And it's a bit of a letdown when life returns to normal, and only Mommy's here again.

But it hurts to realize that they aren't as excited to get back to normal as I am. They aren't as excited to get me back, as I am to be back with them. Because to them I am only mommy, and can't compete with the grandparent who spends forty minutes putting one kid in pajamas. Instead they are protesting when Mommy goes to the kitchen to check on dinner, while they huddle under the covers waiting for me to return.

All of us here are going through an adjustment period. I can't expect them to be as comfortable as they used to be with their bedtime routines, not when they have experienced something they perceive as better for the past two weeks. They can't expect me to provide the undivided attention that they just received. Because I am divided. I am one Mommy taking care of two children and a husband and a house, and sometimes that stretches me pretty thin.

To them I am only mommyThis is why a Mommy cannot base her self-evaluation on her kids' perceptions. Mothers have to design a self-assessment process that's based on what a mommy can realistically and functionally provide. We need to hear their feedback and filter it through the channels that determine our basic functions as a mother to determine whether we are doing are job well.

I consider it realistic and appropriate to expect my almost five year old to put on her own pajamas while I change the baby, so that I can save some energy to lie down with her at night. I consider putting on her own pajamas to be an age-appropriate independence and confidence building activity, while reading her own bed-time story is not. Having her put on her own pajamas also helps relieve stress at a stressful point in the day. And that's part of learning to live in a functioning family, a skill she'll take with her into adulthood.

But during the family visit, my kids got out of their routines, and are not accustomed anymore to the way things work best around here. They're missing the abundance that extra hands provided. They especially miss it at bedtime, when they let me know about it most loudly.

This is hard for me to hear because it is the last bit of feedback that I receive from them that day. Sometimes it feels like a rejection. At those moments, it is my job to step back and appraise the situation myself. And to recognize that just like the weather here is blowing hot and cold, and sometimes gets locked into an unbearable chamsin as it makes the transition into full-time summer, so too my family is making a transition, and part of this transition back to independence after a bit of indulgent pampering are the trantrums that accompany the relearning of our old routines.