At our house, bedtime is a religious experience. As in it can often cause me to lose my religion. I guess I should have seen the warning signs before becoming a parent, because I remember my own parents having to stealth-crawl out of my bedroom when I was a child. I didn’t want them to leave – ever. One or the other would lie next to me in bed, read me a story and I’d put my gum in a little ceramic cat-shaped dish and then drift off to sleep – with them beside me.
(An aside…That’s a strange memory. Evidently I chewed a lot of gum, because I also remember not spitting my gum out and waking up with it in my hair from time to time. Thus the little cat-shaped ceramic nightstand addition, I suppose. Did any other child of the late 70’s or early 80’s have one of those? I feel like I’ll be alone in this. And I completely digress…)
The irony is that the bedtime scene at our house, just like suppertime and bath-time, always rolls around and it rolls much the same as it did for my own parents. Every single night. It’s funny how I never paid that much attention to these daily nuances until I became a parent and had little ones begging for food, and then begging not to have to take a bath, followed by another round of begging to not be put to sleep and then one more episode of begging me not to leave them. But there is two of them and one of me, so we’ve reached a happy medium of late. We start by reading a chapter of a book in big brother’s bed together, tuck him in, pray and say goodnight and then I head to little sister’s bed to read another chapter of a book and tuck her in and say goodnight. Except little sister is a lot like her mommy was as a child and doesn’t want me to leave, so I stay a while and pray a while until she falls asleep.
But by this time, I’m tired. I’m seriously tired and when I get seriously tired and try to read or pray, crazy things can happen. Insert cupcake hats.
One recent evening my girl was requesting specific prayer to not have any dreams (she doesn’t like dreaming anything – she just wants to sleep. I can appreciate this!). So, I began to pray and the next thing I knew I was startled awake with the words “cupcake hats” coming out of my mouth. I hadn’t finished the first sentence before entering a dream-like state of my own and I was praying for none other than cupcake hats. No doubt a cupcake hat would be awesome if it existed, but it took us both by surprise. For the next ten minutes she and I both laughed hysterically, as she kept repeating the phrase over and over incredulously. Deep-belly-soul-hearty-laughter. And if this indication of my own ability to have ridiculous dreams are any indication of what hers could be, no wonder she’s been asking God to make them stop. :O
This mom-life is hard and tiring and I feel so often like I’m royally messing up. I tell myself that we should have better routines at our house (or any kind of routine, for that matter.). I compare our home and life to others that seem to have it all together. You know, the ones whose kids go to bed at 7am and sleep for 10.5 hours, brush their teeth without asking (I completely forgot to insert that nightmare of the bedtime routine), wake up on cloud nine, pack their own snack for school and clothe themselves (including finding two matching socks that don’t feel “weird” and that they haven’t worn the last four days in a row, because there are only two pairs of non-weird pairs of socks in a drawer of 36 pairs).
And then I stop. And I remember the laughing about cupcake hats and how even in my state of weariness and sometimes overwhelming chaos, there is an equal amount of grace. And I thank God for these sometimes long days and longer nights, because I know one day I’ll be sitting in a quiet house on a quiet night, wishing them back.
No matter what our days and nights of motherhood look like, they look exactly the way God knew they would – and He made us parents anyway.
How about that sweet thought? He knew we wouldn’t always get it right, but He graciously doles out second, third and thousand chances to try again. And sometimes, those imperfect moments become the best ones of all.