Our children sleep pretty long in the morning. They usually let us sleep till 8 am. We are often envied of this fact by parents. Parents whose children usually are IN bed by 8 pm. Not ours. 9 pm to 9.45 pm is when the children are all in bed and mommy and daddy have time alone. This has disadvantages. Our wind down and time for ourselves in the evenings is of course limited. On the plus side, we do have a good night's sleep and the children get to spend time with dada. As my husband comes home at 6.30 pm, we try to maximize the time he can spend with the children. That means eating at 7.30, and then there is playtime, some days bath time, a bit of television. And then there is the evening ritual itsself.
Joseph gets to chose who puts him to bed. This is invariably dada. While my wonderful husband goes upstairs for tooth brushing, stories, and cuddles, I watch a little video with Michael on my lap, then move from the living room to the playroom where my rocking chair waits. We read three books, and then I go upstairs while singing the bedtime song. Once in the room he gets a stuffed animal to hold, and then snuggled down on the bed. I back out of the room blowing kisses and saying "I love you's".
But that does not conclude the evening rituals. I then go into Joseph's bedroom for my favorite time of the night: our nighttime talk. He asks for it every night, ever so serious and ever so sweet: "Mommy can you come and talk with me for a few minutes?" And then we talk, about the day. About what we have done. Some pint sized theology, some reflections on what was not so good, about what was so good, and always, always lots of hugs, cuddles, nosy nose, and "I love you."
While I am usually very tired at this time, and also longing to just sit and do something for myself, it is also part of my favorite time of the day. I let go of all tensions, and just.. enjoy this little boy that does not want anything at that moment except for my love and my attention.
It has been hard these last two evenings when that time of quiet bonding with my oldest has been interrupted by my youngest protesting bedtime. I believe in comforting a child who has a nightmare, a toothache, or a sudden longing for mommy. I also believe in developing good sleeping habits. When I have assured myself that Michael is perfectly fine and just crying because the world is so interesting he does not want to go to sleep, I need to force myself not to do what I want (pick him up and stop him thus from crying) and let him learn how to sooth himself to sleep. It's not that I am not willing to share my bed, or my time (though I admit, at 10 pm, my patience with all the needs wears thin), but it would be selfish to give him whatever he wants, because I do not want to listen to him cry. However the stress spoils this most beautiful moment of the day and long after Michael is done crying, the tension still lingers in me.
I hope and pray that tomorrow will be better. I so enjoy my evening routines. My cuddle time with the boys, listening to Joseph go over his entire day, finding the words to speak of what is inside him, hearing how he thinks about things and starts to reason and sort out what is in his mind.. and his heart.