I’ve always tried to be a consistent parent, always believed that was best for my children. If I say I am going to do something, then I do it. If a routine exists, it’s always the same. This especially applies to bedtime. We wind down in the same way and at the same time every night. And then Baby J was born. He had different ideas about our bedtime routine, and for the last 2 years he has been boldly suggesting changes. Close my door and see me in the morning? I don’t think so. Fall asleep quietly in my bed? Not happening. He has made it his own, and for the most part I have fought back remaining convicted about consistency and determined that one day it would actually work….consistently.
Lately, Baby J has been very vocal (literally) about his bedtime routine. After the sweetest goodnight, I often hear him at his door screaming and crying. This lasts until I go back in, and he reaches up, puts his hand in mine, and lets me lead him back to bed. It’s sweet. And frustrating. But mostly sweet. Typically, I do what you are “supposed” to do: wait longer between each period of crying, no talking, no interactions. All the things I’ve spent years telling other parents to do. The other night though I found myself on the floor with him in my arms, and in that moment I realized why God gives you the last one, the baby.
It’s because he might be too big to hold tomorrow. It’s because he might not reach out his hand anymore. It’s because one day he will no longer fit in my lap. It’s because sometimes the best and most thoughtful routines aren’t always what matter. It’s because holding a “baby” in the quiet darkness can fill my soul more than anything else in the world. It’s because it’s sacred. It’s fleeting. It’s a gift.
I believe that our children are sent to teach us the lessons we most need to learn. This is certainly true of my J. Sometimes you need to shove everything else aside and be present, hold on to someone you love, and let your heart be glad. For this, he is a real life expert.
Find the joy,
Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.