My favorite time of the day is bedtime. Whether it has been a good day or a difficult one, bedtime is when we put the day to rest. I nestle in with my children and read a story aloud. I tuck them in and exchange kisses. In the attempt to delay the inevitable sleep , it is then that the days events are retold, secrets revealed, mistakes confessed, and, of course, glasses of water requested. It is in those precious twenty minutes that so many things are shared. There are no other diversions. There is no TV blaring, no dog barking, no neighborhood children ringing the doorbell. It is just me and my kids. They have my undivided attention. By the glow of the nightlight I listen and truly hear what my children are saying.
They open up their hearts and pour them out into the darkness. They allow me into their world. This is what I hear: what makes them sad and what makes them happy; important questions like, “Why can’t I marry my sister?”; knock knock jokes that make no sense; which Star Wars action figure they want most; how many new tricks they can do on their scooters; interesting anecdotes like, my six year old daughter has 100,000 boyfriends; and, what dreams they hope to have that night.
Bedtime is when I hear the essence of my children – their purity, their innocence, their hopes, and wishes. They have an untainted view of the world. There is no judgment, racism or hate. They are inquisitive, honest, naïve and full of wonder. Everything is transient. They don’t harbor grudges or obsess about mistakes. They live in the moment and find joy in the simplest things. They laugh too loudly and cry without embarrassment. As I listen, I realize it is my job as their mother to preserve and foster their untainted view of the world.
Heads on pillows, covers drawn, eyes drooping, mouths yawning, we ask for blessings for each other and those we love. We wish sweet dreams and profess our love. God bless Grayson. God bless Ainsley. God bless everyone we love and the whole wide world. Amen. Then quiet, just the sounds of breathing.
I believe my children are my greatest blessings. And I believe they have much to teach me or maybe just remind me of things that I have somehow forgotten. Within their genuine hearts lies what we all strive for – the fundamentally important elements of life – acceptance, forgiveness, joy and unconditional love.
I know the day will come when my children will believe they are too old for pillow talk. For now, I will cherish every night together and take their lessons with me into my waking hours.
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