The Bedtime Routine
By Kelly Hirt
Yesterday, I sent the following tweet: When I look at my son lying in his bed, it is as if I have forgotten all the rough parts of the day. That is some Mama Amnesia! It’s true, isn’t it?!
We could have a challenging morning filled with, “not fair” and “I DON’T want to” and an afternoon of, “you ALWAYS make me…” but somehow at bedtime, my boy looks angelic. Just hours earlier, the eye-rolling and the “whatever” made it seem as though he had skipped his childhood and entered the land of teenagers!
When my precious boy is getting ready for bed, he begins to get softer around the edges. Once his glasses come off and he’s in his pajamas, he seems to go backwards in years. For the first time all day, he wants to hug and get close and if I’m lucky … he invites me to lie next to him and talk about whatever is on his inquisitive mind.
Why does it stay lighter in the summer?
Who is God?
For some reason, his questions flow once the lights are turned off and while others can quiet their mind, his is just getting started!
One of our bedtime games that he loves is to remind me how quickly he is growing up. “In just a few months, I’m going to be 8 years old!” I play along as if I am truly surprised by the news. “That’s impossible!”
“Do you know what else?” He leans in close, holds my face in his soft hands and looks directly at my eyes, “In no time at all, I am going to be ten!”
“Are you trying to break my heart?!”
“Oh, Mama!” He smiles. We laugh and he loves it. What he doesn’t know is that secretly, my heart really does break a little at how fast this is all racing by.
There was a long time, when I wasn’t sure I would have these bedtime routines. The homework, the hugs, the unstoppable questions, all the things that come with being a parent just didn’t seem to be in the cards for me. I was happy being a positive influence to many children as a teacher and then returning home to a tidy house and quiet evenings.
My partner and I were both established in our careers and secure in our relationship when we finally began to wonder if we wanted a family … a larger family than just ourselves and our beloved terrier. After a few years of talking and listening to each other, we decided it was time and we reached out to a local adoption agency.
Our journey was unexpectedly challenging and there were times of true uncertainty. However, we are so very thankful for the process because we now have a precious boy of our own. He is quirky, sensitive and intense and his favorite place to be is at home. He is most comfortable in front of his computer or sitting between us on the couch during family movie nights.
Because I wasn’t sure that any of this was going to be mine, I remind myself of the joy as I do even the most mundane things like visiting a park, shampooing his hair, and the bedtime routine.
Out of the blue, he has recently started playing Pat-a-Cake again. Strange, I know; but his favorite part is to say, “…mark it with a BB and put it in the oven for Big Boy and me!” I visibly grimace at the sound of those words and he wants to do it again. “You know, I’m really a Big Boy!” One thing that I’m quite confident about is that as long as he calls himself a “big boy,” he really isn’t one yet.
When the talking and reading is complete, the lights turn off and the calm music begins. He tries to delay the inevitable with more questions, but I say in a slow whisper, “My boy, it is time for bed.” Most nights, just before he falls asleep, I get one more “Mama, I love you!”
I sit in the darkness and I think about being his mother … all that it means and all that I have experienced because of him. I am forced to be more intentional with my words and actions since I have this boy watching my every move. I censor my speech and I try to model the healthiest ways to express frustration and stress. I must be my own best friend now … instead of my own worst enemy because he should see how to forgive yourself for mistakes and to learn how to celebrate your own strengths.
On this night, after the talking has stopped, I have a new appreciation for how hard it must be for MY parents to see me grown up and independent … making my own choices. Choices that maybe they didn’t understand, but have grown to accept.
Kelly Hirt is a mother, teacher & writer. She started her blog http://mytwicebakedpotato.com/ as a way to support and connect people parenting twice-exceptional children. Kelly’s work has been seen in Macaroni Kids, Huffington Post, and many other sites. Kelly’s blog was Parent Map’s 2013 Golden Teddy Award finalist for parenting blogs.
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