It’s one of my favorites. That little book. I used to have it memorized, now it’s only parts I remember.
Bedtime has always been my favorite time of day.
It’s still a favorite. But I think my reasons have changed.
Before it was because I was tired. I mean, really exhausted. Mommy was done. I had been going since my feet hit the floor. Giving, giving, giving. There were battles over bowls and cups and the right color. Toy wars had ensued. Sometimes I came out the victor. Sometimes. Discipline had been accomplished. Spankings, timeouts, no t.v., no snack, come inside NOW!
We may have gone to the grocery store, if we absolutely had to. That meant one car seat captive in the back of the buggy, a walking 20 month old beside me and the older 3 year old in the front seat of the buggy. Believe me, this was how it had to be, as funny as it may have looked.
I endured the stares and comments… My you have your hands full! …You must be military, he’s home just long enough to get you pregnant! (really, do people have no couth these days!?) …God bless your SOUL! I repeated my rehearsed replies, Why yes I do and I’m so thankful! … No, I’m not military, but am so thankful for their service to our country, military wives included … God HAS blessed me, yes. That shut them up, most of the time.
After several melt downs along the way, the kids included, we would arrive home. It was usually nap time by this point. I would quickly deposit the kids in their nap locations, some on my bed with books, others in cribs. Then I would tackle the bags and bags of groceries, which would hopefully last more than a week. This is why I didn’t need to go to the gym.
I would try and take advantage of the quiet to get dinner started, but usually got distracted at some point while putting things away. I’d end up cleaning behind the dryer or something and would later wonder why my back hurt.
By the time dinner was well under way there was usually someone on my hip and another one clinging to my leg. I had the other watching Cinderella for sanity purposes.
Daddy would come home. We’d try and have a conversation while inhaling our food over the high volume level of little ones and in between the 20 times I had to get up and go back to the kitchen for something. I’m sure someone had spilled something or picked that time to want to try and go potty and don’t forget about the nursing baby who’s internal radar senses the precise moment you sit down to eat.
Bath time was essential after dinner. Mashed potatoes were now in ears and caked over eyebrows and they smelled like whatever chicken dish I had haphazardly thrown together. I couldn’t risk a tiger picking up their scent in the middle of the night. We would all be wet by the time it was over. But they were clean and smelling so good and I would just breathe them in.
Some nights we would rock and sing and read books before bed. Most nights we would. I would pray over their fuzzy heads as I laid them down in their beds, 1, 2, and 3. I would sigh a huge sigh of relief as I tiptoed out of their rooms, crossing my fingers in hopes of not having to return sometime in the middle of the night.
Walking down the stairs I felt satisfied. Another day done. I had survived it. A smile would creep over my potato crusted face. I would get to that later. For now, it was the kitchen that must be tackled and then the slippery bathroom and the 10,000 toys that seemed to multiply by themselves which were scattered across the floor, just beckoning you to come and step on one. It may be quiet, but the work was not done.
Many hours later I myself would crawl in bed. I may have tried to read, but wouldn’t get very far. The book would have fallen across my chest. I would turn off the light after waking around 2am. I’d make sure the monitor was on. I may have traveled up the stairs just to make sure that tiger hadn’t found them and would again revel in their stillness.
During the rest of the night my mind and body would be renewed by precious sleep. Unlikely uninterrupted, but precious all the same.
I would wake again the next morning to more diapers and tantrums and laundry and spit up and… well you probably get the picture.
I’m not proud to admit the survival-mode mentality I lived with in those first few years of mothering. But I was a different person back then. A different mother. I was in a very different season of life and I’d like to think that I’ve seasoned over time and matured just a bit. Just like with every other thing, I’ve grown better at mothering the more experience I’ve had.
Many have commented on how differently I’m doing things with number four. Again, it’s a different season, I’m a different mommy.
Tucking them in at night is different too. I’m still tired at the end of the day. They are still loud and still fight and we still battle through the grocery store. But my perspective has been tweaked just a bit. I’m not always in such a hurry to end another day.
If you combine all of my kid’s years, then we have celebrated 22 birthdays so far. That’s a lot. And I can’t believe Judah’s first is next month! The more years that flash by, I think the more a Mama realizes just how fast it really goes.
You also realize that no matter what mess or catastrophe may happen in a day, you will survive it. Even if you’ve been up all night with a sick one, you know you will sleep again. You know the crying will stop and the food throwing and the booger wiping (well, maybe) and the constant bickering and running through the house with muddy shoes… one day we will all have clean houses and we will hate it.
There will be an end to this crazy season of ‘mothering’. We will never stop being mothers, but will stop the mothering part. And we will stop tucking them in at night too. They will grow too old for Good Night Moon and I Love You This Much and all my other favorites. Some of mine already have.
That’s what I think of when I tuck them in sometimes. So I don’t mind laying just a bit longer and snuggling a bit closer. And don’t mind giving one more kiss or hug or listening to one more thing that happened in their day or meeting the challenge of tickle me too! They just love that. But I think I love it more.
So as we say good night to our young ones, let’s remember that we will one day say good bye to these precious days. We will heave a sigh of relief I’m sure, but I think we’ll miss it more. This shouldn’t make us sad. Great things and great hope come with every season of life. But maybe it will help to give us a better perspective as we fight off the temptation to rush things and wish it away.
And a red balloon and a picture of–
The cow jumping over the moon
and two little kittens and a pair of mittens
and a little toy house and a young mouse
and a comb and a brush and bowl full of mush
and a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”
Goodnight room goodnight moon
goodnight cow jumping over the moon
goodnight light and the red balloon
goodnight kittens goodnight mittens
goodnight little house and goodnight mouse
goodnight nobody goodnight mush
and goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush”
goodnight stars, goodnight air