I’m sitting next to my son in his bed, feeling completely and utterly relaxed. Bath time is over, the books have been read, the teeth brushed, and we’ve transitioned into that sweet spot right before I tuck him in. My husband tends to work late, so it’s usually me getting the kids to sleep. My daughter is in her bedroom, reading; I’ll head over to her next.
I lean over and rub my nose against Max’s. He giggles, like he always does. “OK, hair kisses!” I announce and wiggle my nose into his hair as he cracks up.
The time between when the kids finish their bedtime to-dos and when I shut off the lights in their room is my favorite part of the day. For once, I feel totally in the moment. There’s no iPhone to distract me, no rush-rush-rush, nobody needs me to do something for them. I have yet to try meditation, breathing exercises, or even a pill that has quite the same tranquilizing effect. Whatever kind of stress the day has brought, it dissolves.
Oh, yeah, I’m excited about having a few minutes to myself once the kids have crashed. “It’s the most wonderful time of the day!” a friend’s husband has been known to sing when their kids are finally asleep. But then, the downtime that I really savor — the one that I will miss most when my kids are grown up — is the literal down time of getting them into their beds.
After Max is snug in his blanket, I lean over and give him a bunch more kisses on his cheeks. “I love you love you love you,” I say, because one is never enough. His eyelids are half-closed but the adoration is shining through them, and I am dizzy-drunk on it.
Then it’s off to my girl’s room. Sabrina likes to catch up at bedtime, so she tells me about the cute shoes a friend got, how many vocabulary words she’s already studied for the test, and exactly which foods she’d like to have at her upcoming birthday sleepover party (the more macarons, the merrier). Most nights, we play The Kissing Game in which each of us has to guess the type of kiss the other is giving. Lots of pecks = a woodpecker kiss. Sucking cheek = a vacuum kiss. Gliding lips over face in a figure-eight shape = an ice-skating kiss. We’ve been doing this for years, and we’ve never run out of creative kisses.
Sabrina’s particular about her bedding situation. She likes to lie on top her sheets, covered by her “soft blanket” (a furry brown number from Target) followed by her peace-sign comforter. She sleeps in pigtails so her hair stays neat, and every time I fold her blanket around her chin I think she looks amazingly adorable. This is also because she’s too sleepy to give me any of her usual sass.
After a couple of kisses, as I walk out the door, inevitably she says “More kisses!” So I rush back and cover her cheeks with kisses. I walk out the door again and then, “More hugs!” Parenthood is full of tender moments, but I am going to be despondent the day my daughter stops asking for more bedtime kisses and hugs.
As I walk downstairs, off to do chores, catch up on paperwork or maybe just maybe take a breather and watch some HGTV, I feel content. No other part of my day makes me this happy. While it’s true that kids thrive on routines, this parent lives for bedtime.