My Favorite Moment

In my very first blog post, I talked about the importance of looking for meaning in the smallest moments of our lives. In fact, I challenged each of us, myself included, to take the time to really see what was in front of us each day. I'm not sure if you were doing your homework, but I was doing mine, and I felt compelled to share my thoughts and experiences tonight.

As with last time, inspiration struck at bedtime. Mine this time. Seems the only time my brain slows down enough to really take in these life lessons is when I'm too tired to drown them out. 

Each night, our bedtime routine is a little bit different. We don't have a one hour routine with a laundry list of steps, from bathtime to story time and everything in between. Sometimes the kids get a bath, sometimes a shower and sometimes they slip their tired and dirty feet between their crisp, clean (maybe?) sheets and we worry about it in the morning. Sometimes we have family book club. Most times we start a book together and never finish. Sometimes we have family meeting. Most times we have family prayer. There are usually tears. And trips downstairs for water. And dramatic requests to be tucked back in. Many times there are sleep walking trips to the silverware drawer, and extra cuddles. There is usually back scratching and bear finding. Some nights it's muskimo kisses, and others it's butterflies and lady bugs. There are "I love yous," and "I love you smaller bigs." Sometimes there are more tears. And occasionally, even some yelling; we are trying to improve that one, but what can I say? I'm human, and bedtime with three kids can feel like a battleground from time to time.

As much as we would like more consistency, we just aren't there yet. But there is one routine that never changes. One that belongs to me. One that I take part in come rain or shine, graveyard or early morning shift, tears or tickles, every single night of the year. Every single year since Landon made me a Mom. A routine that (until now) no one even knows about. 

Each night, after the last tears are shed, the last laugh has faded into silence, and the baby has finished her last evening nursing session, I have my moment. I gently lay her in her crib, and head down the hall towards Landon's room. I usually find him sprawled out all over the bed. Sometimes he's barely still on the bed. At nine years old, it's getting a little bit harder, but I gently rearrange him. Moving dangling limbs so they won't tingle, adjusting pillows so his neck won't hurt, and pulling up the covers just so. I stroke his cheek and give him a kiss, knowing that soon, this will be the only time I'll get to kiss him at all. Soon, he'll be "too cool" for that. So I linger. I scan the room for anything that might be a danger, a scattered Lego in his path to the restroom, the sash from his robe hanging from his bed, too close to his precious neck. Satisfied that all is well, I sneak out, leaving his door cracked so the heat will get in, and so I know that I can hear him if he needs me in the night. 

One child down, I gently pad down the hallway, picking up toys, making sure the sink is off and the lid is down on the toilet, lest anyone drown while I sleep. Tonight, I notice that it's April and their mini Christmas tree is still up, with ornaments on the floor. I move them out of the footpath and make a mental note to get a tote and pack that away, marveling at how easy it is to stop noticing things we pass every day. 

I continue on and check the thermostat to make sure it won't be too chilly for Harper, who isn't yet old enough to safely sleep with a blanket, and then I head into Addy's room. I usually find her in the same position where she finally gave up the fight and fell asleep. Blankets just so, and any random permutation of toys lined up next to her in bed. I'm careful in here, and I have to move more quickly, since she's a much lighter sleeper than her brother. I work in opposite order. Clearing paths and removing hazards before I sneak up to her bed. I linger but a moment, risking a quiet hand on her chest, feeling the gentle rise and fall and the soft beating of her heart. I marvel at how peaceful she is, compared to the constant state of motion when she is awake. I often silently apologize for not being more patient with her antics, for I know one day, I will wish she needed me to scratch her back, or lay with her for just one more minute. If I'm feeling particularly brave, I bend down for a quick, soft kiss, and often she stirs, opening her eyes just enough to smile and drift back off to dreamland. Sometimes I even get a "love you Mom," or a slightly accusatory "you woke me up." Then, like any sane and responsible mother, I hightail it out of there before she's fully awake and we're all in trouble. 

Finally I head back into my room, where sweet Harper still sleeps in her crib. I begin to silently chastise myself for having a nine month old still in my room, but I know deep down, neither of us want it any other way. I carefully reach my hand down into the crib and rest it on her side, waiting for that reassuring swell of her tummy, letting me know she's still here, still safe and still at rest. I usually gently pull a foot from between the bars, or move a head from resting against the rails. I briefly consider rolling her to her back, but finally, at nine months old, I've come to realize those efforts are futile. So instead I stroke her soft, fine hair and utter a silent prayer that she will be safe and protected as she sleeps. Then, I  take a deep breath and turn back to my bed.

It is this moment I live for each night. This one moment in the long, and frenetic day that I feel totally and completely filled. In a brain that's always swirling with fears, and plans, and extraneous thoughts, I feel totally at peace. And more than that, I feel whole and content, and surprisingly, I feel powerful. I realize that as a Mother, there are so many times I feel powerless. Times when I can't predict their futures or be there to protect them twenty four hours a day. Times where I feel inadequate to the task, unprepared and terrified about the job I must be doing. But I realized tonight, walking back to my bed, that in these small motions, the gentle moving of body parts, the adept scanning and removal of anything that could harm them, in these stolen, secret moments of observation and reflection, of blanket adjusting and bear finding, I've found my strength, and my confidence. I realize that I've never felt more like a "real mother," than I do in these moments, in these motions, and what a feeling that is. In this moment, with Jonathon gently snoring in the background, I realize that I've got all I'll ever need. That in each other, we've all got everything we'll ever need. Within steps of our bed. You want to talk joy, and contentment? That is it, sister. In this moment, I feel joyful, and I feel content, and so deeply grateful. This moment is my favorite.

{I actually wrote this post from my phone, at about 11:00 pm on April 15. As usual, life got busy, and I never published it, but I'm sharing it with you now. The only difference between tonight, and April 15 is that the kids' miniature Christmas tree is, in fact, put away now. That, and the fact that Harper is now, unbelievably, 10 months old. And still in my room.}

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