Moms often joke about “just making it until bedtime”. We seem to see it as our goal. It’s the finish line for our day. Once we make it through bedtime, we are somewhat free for the next several hours. We can binge on Netflix, junk food, have a glass of wine and some “me” time. Or we might still be stuck getting chores done, but at least we can do them in peace and quiet without a tiny human interrupting us every two seconds.
Like most moms, I look forward to the time after my kids go to bed. I look forward to the break and opportunity to hangout with my husband. I look forward to eat chips and guac without having to share or being able to take a bubble bath without a little mini me wanting to climb in with me. The time after bedtime is REALLY nice.
But I also look forward to bedtime for a totally different reason.
It is truly such a sweet time with my kids. It’s a time I would not trade for all the “me” moments in the world.
Every night, my three-year-old and I snuggle up in his little twin size bed. We read a story or two and then its prayer time. I don’t know if there is anything cuter than a toddler praying, “Dear Jesus, thank you for Mac ‘n Cheese. In Jesus’ name, Amen”.
Or another favorite, “Dear Jesus, thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Gaga, Papa, my baby brother, my teachers, and ALLLLL the people. Amen.”
He requests the same lullaby song each night and he listens to it on repeat while we snuggle until he falls asleep.
I know every family does bedtime differently. We all have different parenting approaches. What works for me may not work for you. Maybe it IS a bad habit to snuggle him to sleep. But I don’t really care. I am 10 times his age and I still don’t like sleeping without my husband, so I don’t expect my toddler to like sleeping alone either.
Plus, I know this won’t last forever. He is (hopefully) not going to be in college and need me to help him fall asleep. Right now he is three and he wants and needs this time with mommy.
And mommy wants and needs this time too, My toddler is a busy boy. He does not sit still during the day, ever . . . not even when he watches TV. So when he will snuggle with me to fall asleep, you better believe I will savor every single moment of it. I watch his chest rise and fall as his breathing deepens. I kiss his sweet chubby cheeks. I hold his little hand. I enjoy the quiet and I thank God for my little boy.
My family’s story is complicated. We lost our daughter when she was just a few months old. I know how fragile life is so I cling to these little moments. I know how fleeting they can be. I would give anything to hold my daughter one more time. I can’t. But I can certainly hold the two children still with me.
However, let’s be real. I’m just like every other mom. After we lost our daughter, I thought I would never need a break from my other children. But that’s simply not true, even though I get worn down, tired, distracted and sometimes lose my patience.
Bedtime is always a time for me to slow down and just be present and intentional with my children, with no distractions or expectations placed on them. It’s a time to just be mommy and son. It’s a practice I hope to continue over time.
Maybe for you, this time of day is in the morning, when your child first wakes up. Or maybe it’s when they get home from school or you get home from work. It doesn’t matter when it is. Just find a time of day where you let yourself savor your child and how special they are to you.
When life is rough and we are drained, this sweet time we set aside with them will refuel us much more than any Netflix episode ever will. Our children are only little for a very short time.
So thank you, God, for beautiful moments like bedtime.