My wife and I are in a season of life where bedtime for our kids is a battle. Some night’s it’s so bad I wonder if our girls have Navy Seal like endurance sessions where they train themselves to stay awake and operate on as little sleep as possible. Most nights this is the case.
But every once in a while something gives. Either we’ve run them ragged for days on end, they are suspiciously compliant or like tonight, they’re fighting sickness. And on these nights it’s not just that they DON’T fight us at bed time, they actually WANT to go to bed!
These are the night’s you long for as a parent because in their acceptance of sleep, the possibility of a sweet and tender moment is in the air.
This weekend, Emma our two-year old, has been fighting a little cold. By quarter after six she was asking to go to bed. After getting her pj’s on, brushing her teeth and tucking her in, she asked if I would lay with her for a few minutes.
While laying on her side, with her thumb firmly fixed in her mouth and clutching her puppy with her opposite hand, she offered her back asking if I would scratch it. Also laying on my side, with my head propped up in the palm of my hand, it was a moment to die for. And if this was all the moment turned out to be, I was already a happy man.
But then, as her breathing settled into it’s slow rhythmic pace, inflating and deflating her tiny torso, with one motion she turn an already delightful moment into an extraordinary moment. For just a second she released her clutch on her puppy, and without looking reached her hand to grab my arm. She held it there just for a second and then grabbed for her puppy again.
My heart leaped in my chest! I wanted to linger in that moment as long as I could.
Was she wanting reassurance? Was she drifting into sleep while at the same time wondering if I was still there? Was she trying to tell me something?
I have no idea. And I’m completely ok not knowing. In fact, I’d rather not know. For me, the mystery of it is what makes it sweet.
In the trenches of life with little kids, it’s easy to always anticipate the next battle that we lose sight of looking for the simple moments – that unexpected hug, the eagerness of showing you what they just learned, or a bed time cuddle – that once are gone, we can’t get back.
I already see it with our four-year old, Kate. There are experiences I’m having with Emma that I used to have with Kate that I may not have again. That’s not to say I won’t have new one’s with Kate, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get the old ones again.
So no matter if you’re a parent or not. Regardless of your relationship status, it’s the little things, the simple things in life with the people you love most that give our days meaning and remind us of what’s important.