About 4-6 weeks ago, Charlotte decided she was through with her easy bedtime routine. Before that, we would feed her dinner, give her a bath, get her into her pjs, and then we would read a few stories, sing a few songs, and end with a prayer. We would put her in her crib, kiss her goodnight, and off to dreamland she’d go, usually by 6:30. It was blessedly easy. Then, all of a sudden, she decided bedtime wasn’t so great after all, and she started coming up with what can only be described as stalling techniques. She’d ask for milk, water, a towel (yes, a towel), a doll, hair bows–you name it, she probably asked for it. Then she’d whine and cry for many more minutes before finally giving up and going to sleep.
I’m not sure how it began, but one night I sat with her in her rocking chair after she refused to go to sleep, and she asked me to sing. I couldn’t refuse such a request, so sing I did: “Jesus Loves Me,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “My God Is So Big,” etc. I enjoyed the extra snuggle time, and she calmed down and went to sleep when I finished. Then she asked again the next night, and I told her I would but only for 5 minutes. It didn’t take long for her to start asking to “sit 5 minutes” with me before bed. It didn’t put an end to the litany of requests, but it did shorten it, and she usually goes to bed more willingly. I never intended to start singing and rocking as part of our regular routine, but every night after we’ve finished our books and said our prayers, Charlotte kisses her daddy good night and then turns to me with that infectious smile of hers and asks, “Sit 5 minutes?”
Those 5 minutes have become one of the favorite parts of my day. Maybe that’s why sometimes it’s more like 10 minutes. 🙂 I confess that initially I was a little annoyed that something else had been added to our bedtime routine, but I quickly realized how precious this time is–this sacred shared time between mother and daughter. During those 5 minutes, I soak in her presence, memorize the feel of her skin, the adorable curve of her nose, the curl of her chubby little toes. And I clung to her a little tighter last night after hearing the heartbreaking news coming out of Oklahoma. Each day is a gift, and I want to savor it. I know one day she’ll be too big to sit in my lap. One day she’ll tire of my company. One day instead of wanting to hear me sing, she’ll want me to just leave her alone. But today is not that day, and so I sang and prayed to God with gratitude for my sweet girl.
One day, I’ll be the one saying to her, “Sit 5 minutes?” I hope she will always say yes in reply.