He put his hand over my heart.
“Is this where love lives?”
It was dark outside, well past my 4-year-old son’s bedtime, and we were crammed into his twin bed, nose to nose. He was in that very distinct stage of not-quite-sleep where all the silliness wanes and the sweetness surfaces.
It was only a few weeks before that I had told him that–while trying to explain the concept of love–I kept all the love he gave me in there. Kind of like he keeps his Legos in a plastic box in his closet.
I thought the idea would be lost on him, or at the very least he would forget it immediately. But as tend kids do, he surprised me, as he went on:
“Mommy, I love you. You make me happy. I will take you on a date and we will fly on a cloud and we will kiss.”
Of course I was slayed by the sweetness.
But I was also reminded.
More often than not these days–and especially since adding another baby to the mix–I rush. I order. I fix and check-off the list and clean and wash and do do do.
And sometimes, I need these little reminders to be stopped. That I need to calm the hell down and listen. To stop rushing through. To stop looking at bedtime like Just One More Thing on my to-do list.
Every time these moments happen it kinda knocks my socks off, because it’s usually right after an otherwise bonkers “bedtime routine” (quotes because I use that phrase loosely) where at least one kid has escaped his/her bedroom and I’m bouncing back and forth between their rooms as the baby wails in the background.
And each time something sweet slips in between those crazy moments, I swear to myself I won’t forget that moment. I’ve even taken to emailing myself his sweet non-sequiturs; they serve as a salve for those days when mothering has zapped every last ounce of goodwill and patience from me.
Kids’ sweet words are good for stuff like that.
But the reason I do it is, despite the stress of these nonstop, crazy days, I know this window–this one where we are canoodling in the clouds together–is finite.
I will forget, years from now, that on that one night my son planned out our perfect dream date, that I’m so exhausted at bedtime that I’m asleep within 45 seconds of my head hitting the pillow.
I will forget that there were no fewer than five piles of dirty clothes that night that needed washing.
I will also forget that I hadn’t washed my hair in five days.
But I won’t let myself forget those words.
You see, the Bedtime Routine — all the attendant tasks of motherhood, really—are little obstacle courses that all of us moms must hurdle through each day to get to the finish line. And damn, these days are long.
But then once in a while, God throws you a little moment of magic to let you know that, buried under the all those Little Things, like piles of dirty laundry and packing lunches and breaking up sibling fights, you are doing very Big Work indeed.
And the reward for it all? Once in a blue (and busy) moon, your dream guy might ask you to go on a date in a cloud. And you will be listening to say yes.
What’s your bedtime routine with your kids? Any tips you’d like to share on how to make it as smooth as possible? I’d love to hear them! Comment below!