Order Soon for Christmas Delivery!🎄 ➔

Last night at bedtime, my son asked why everyone has to die one day. The thought of my sweet 7-year-old grappling with the weight of such a question hurt my heart. He looked so small tucked under a fleece blanket, clutching his favorite stuffed panda. How could the same little boy who just started second grade wearing a space backpack stuffed with bright, wide-ruled notebooks ask such a thing? 

Perhaps my children are more aware of the inevitability of death than other kids their age due to the passing of various family pets over the past few years, or perhaps it’s the way death looms over our home in the form of my ailing, 96-year-old grandmother. Still, it seemed morbid coming from my young son. I have learned from experience that it’s best not to rush an answer to a child, so I decided to buy myself some time.

That’s a big question. Let me think for a minute.

As we lay in his twin-sized bed in the semi-darkness, I struggled to find an appropriate response. My eyes wandered around the room as if I might find an answer in the space mobile dangling from his ceiling fan or the detritus of building bricks and action figures in the corner. 

RELATED: The Bedtime Hoops: 4 Important Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Night

I was tired, the kind of exhausted when even my bones ached. It was the first Friday of the school year, and all I wanted to do was snuggle for a few minutes and slip away to my own bed. I had already successfully put my 3-year-old to sleep without a hitch. This was supposed to be the easy bedtime. The thought of brushing my own teeth seemed like an insurmountable feat, and now I had to come up with the meaning of life. 

Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had been here before. I could add this to the list of challenging questions my children have asked, always at bedtime: How does Santa get in our house without a chimney? Why do people get divorced sometimes? Where do babies come from? 

It was true I desperately wanted to go to bed, but there is a reason kids always ask the big questions at bedtime.

Bedtime is when their little bodies and big minds can finally relax and begin to process the day’s events. There must also be a scientific reason involving the brain, but as a mom I know it’s because they feel safe. Here in this cocoon of blankets, too many stuffed animals, and the soft glow of a night light, my son is able to unlock his heart. 

Framing it that way, my own heart no longer hurt, and I was no longer in a rush to go to sleep. I was honored to be the one he opens up to. More than that, I was relieved that my son has a comforting space in which to ask big questions. It is far better he ask his parents than struggle with them on his own or avoid asking them altogether. Finding meaning in life is part of growing up, and it doesn’t have to be lonely or scary. 

RELATED: I Believe in God and I Still Have a Million Questions

After a few moments, I said life wouldn’t be very special if it lasted forever. This wasn’t a good answer. Even in the dim light I could see the confusion and worry on my son’s face. Then I said our bodies eventually grow too old and tired, but you and I are still very young. I was getting closer. This response was too reductive, but at least he understood.

I wish I could say I found a perfect answer, but I finally settled on something simple and true.

I really don’t know why we have to die, but I do know that I am very lucky to be alive with you.

My son must have agreed because he wrapped his free arm around my neck and drifted off to sleep, restoring his energy for another busy day and more big questions to be asked at bedtime.

This time, instead of worrying about finding the perfect answer, I would just be grateful to be the one he was asking.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Brittany Bell

Brittany Bell is a special education teacher who lives in Queens, New York with her husband and two tiny humans who call her mom. You can usually find her reading, writing, playing outside with her kids, or snuggled up next to one of the family cats.

13 Questions My Kids Ask Me That I Want to Ask Right Back

In: Humor, Motherhood
13 Questions My Kids Ask Me That I Want to Ask Right Back www.herviewfromhome.com

Have your kids ever asked you a question that you’d like to throw right back at them, like a hot potato? The kind of question that has you asking, “When did I become the grown up?” Kids are quizzical by nature. The world is still more mystery than fact. It’s natural that they’re going to ask the adult, the human who’s been here longer, for the answers. And I’d be happy to answer questions like, “Is there really a man in the moon?” I’ll even take, “Where do babies come from?” over some of the daily questions, the standard fare...

Keep Reading

Not Just Bedtime Prayers: 70 Faith-Focused Questions To Ask Your Kids Each Day

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Not Just Bedtime Prayers: 70 Faith-Focused Questions To Ask Your Kids Each Day www.herviewfromhome.com

Our article, 50 Questions To Ask Your Kids Instead Of Asking ‘How Was Your Day’ has been a huge hit with all of you (and in my home, too).  Seriously, my girls love it. Mom and dad do as well. Last night as I was reading your comments, I decided we needed a faith specific version of these questions. (Thanks middle of the night nursing session for my ‘thinking’ time.) And so our writers came through (again) with these 70 questions to ask your kids. I love this list so much.. maybe even more than the first. I hope it helps...

Keep Reading

Parenting is Acting: How To Handle Those Tough Questions As Our Kids Grow

In: Motherhood
Parenting is Acting: How To Handle Those Tough Questions As Our Kids Grow www.herviewfromhome.com

Much of the time, in my experience anyway, parenting involves a great deal of acting. Take Santa, for instance. Many of us do a phenomenal job pretending that a jolly, old, chubby, bearded man comes into our houses one night every year and brings gifts for all our children. We wrap the “Santa” presents in different paper than all the others. We leave footprints in the snow, telling our little ones that Santa made them. Some of us even prepare reindeer food and sprinkle it outside on our driveways so the animals can have a snack during the nightly deliveries....

Keep Reading