Bedtime is my favorite time of day - a secret I am willing to confess now. I used to worry that loving the kids' bedtime was a sign that I didn't love my mothering hours enough. And while I do love the glass of wine that almost inevitably follows bedtime, I also love bedtime for itself - for the time with each of my little lovies - so squirmy and busy all day long and so willing to be held and snuggled when the sun sets.
Squish sits next to me in the rocking chair, and he leans into my side as we rock through Little Owl Lost or Bedtime Bunnies or Make Way for Ducklings. After the story, we turn off the lights, and Squish finally lets me hold him in my arms while I sing a lullaby or two. And then comes the best part - the lingering. I keep holding him, and he keeps resting in my arms. He curls up like a four-month-old. I get to tell him how much I love him and how much I love being his mommy.
Bug likes to read his bedtime stories in bed. When we finish the books, he scoots off the bed to turn off the light and to turn the alarm clock around so that its glow faces away from the bed. Bug climbs into bed, and I stay with him for five minutes. Some nights I suggest three minutes, and on those nights, he says, "How about five minutes? I think five minutes might be easier." So we cuddle for "five" minutes. I ask him about his day. Sometimes he has stories to tell, and sometimes he is too tired to say anything. I know we have reached the end of the ritual when he says, "Let's have a big hug," and I get to tell him how much I love him and how much I love being his mommy. And on some nights, in the middle of the big hug, I remember exactly how it felt to hold him when he was eight months old.
Every night, I feel like I could stay with each of them for hours and drift away into some sleepy dreamland where everything is peaceful and quiet and tender.
And after the last two weeks in the Boston area, I realized that my hope for a peaceful, quiet, and tender dreamland is going to last our lifetimes. In some form or another I will always look for ways to linger and to repeat "I love you, I love you, I love you," trying to cast a magic spell that will protect them from the trauma of bad dreams or growing pains or whatever else this world has to throw at us.