I’m the kind of mom who likes to take short cuts. If I can do it now or later, I’ll choose later. If there’s a quick way, I’m going with that way…even if it’s not the best way. Truth is, I am lazy.
This backfires when you have a child whose love language is quality time.
Since Mother’s Day, and my Mother’s Day Resolutions, I’ve figured out how much easier my life can be if I just take a few extra minutes.
I’ve added a few steps to our bedtime routine which used to be: Put on your jammies, brush your teeth, get in the bed. I’m usually pretty well spent by bedtime and anxious for the day to be over. But something was happening at bedtime…
Lila wouldn’t give me a good night hug.
So, even though I’d justified our short bedtime routine by saying that I read stories all day long and we pray together all day long…I knew that bedtime needed more than I was giving it.
Bedtime now goes like this: Put on your jammies, brush your teeth, read three stories, pray together. And it takes about five times longer. But it is worth it.
Lila is giving out hugs again.
And it’s not actually about the hugs. It’s about this: How do I want the day to end with them? Do I want them to feel pushed into bed with a quick good night or do I want them to remember these evenings of reading together, laughing together, praying together. I want to remember these sweet moments of Lila’s prayers (“We just hope that you’ll put your angels around us…”) and Claire giggling from her crib and reading some of the best stories. I was missing all of this by trying to rush through and this is the good stuff.
I have to say I patted myself on the back because bedtimes were going so well.
Then last night happened.
We read three stories, we prayed, we got hugs and kisses and tucked in. I went downstairs to watch a Bollywood movie with Aubrey. About a million pleas for “Mo-o-o-m-my.” were forthcoming but I stood my ground and just yelled back, “It’s bedtime. Go to sleep.” This went on for forty five minutes and it’s not too uncommon…sometimes those two get talking and giggling and don’t fall asleep right away.
Aubrey said, “I’ll just go and make sure that Claire has her passy.”
About forty five seconds later, I hear Aubrey’s laugh. “Mom, you’ve got to come and see this.”
This was that Lila had given Claire every single stuffed animal in the room and Claire had literally no place in the crib to lay her head. No place at all! She was standing knee deep in elephants, giraffes, bunnies, puppies, puppies and more puppies…She pointed to the masses at her feet and said, “Mommy!”
I shook my head, started pulling out stuffed animals (Claire was happy to help by throwing them out of the crib.) and then tucked everyone in again. I should’ve fussed at Lila about it, i should’ve given some kind of correction, but we were all just laughing too much. New hugs and kisses, a quick prayer and eventually Aubrey and I got back to our movie.
So much for my awesome parenting. The ploy had been that spending that extra time would make them go to bed happily and more smoothly. That didn’t happen…becuase kids don’t care if we think we’ve figured it all out. Kids are unpredictable.
And this is the kind of stuff we remember. I love hearing my older kids say things like, “Remember the time when we…” and they remember some crazy thing we did, something I wouldn’t have thought was all that important, but it made a memory. They remember so fondly so much of the ordinary, everyday things. And because I can see that now, with Julia on the verge of twenty, Aubrey at seventeen and Chase at fifteen…I don’t want to miss out on all these good memories I can be building for the little ones too.
This is why we have our daily dance parties. And when they happen (as they do, spontaneously, almost every day), we drop everything and just dance.
And I think I’ve just come to realize that shortcuts, procrastination, doing things halfway…it just makes more work in the end.
So, tell me what funny things you do at your house? What things will/do your kids remember?