Bedtime and moments that matter

If you compiled a list of things that no one tells you about parenting before you have children, you could fill a parenting book. And while many things may truly come as a surprise to you, there's one thing that I'm convinced is the most tightly guarded secret of all.

What no one tells you

There are countless things that no one tells you before you have children, lest they scare you away from having any of your own.

Just how tired you’ll be with a new baby, how many times you’ll actually have to change your child’s diaper, how they can fight naps like a pro and how they’ll push you to the point of saying those phrases you heard your own parents say and swore you never would are high on the list of secrets other parents keep from you.

What you need to know about the importance of the bedtime routine >>

The biggest secret of all

But the biggest secret, the one that you can never even begin to imagine as you walk around, happily rubbing your pregnant belly dreaming of the future, is that there will be afternoons and evenings when your kids’ bedtime just cannot come soon enough.

Not because you long to read Goodnight Moon or Fancy Nancy for the zillionth time, but because you ran out of patience and energy somewhere over the course of the day.

I’m convinced that all parents love bedtime. I’ve yet to meet one who doesn’t.

By the time my husband and I have corralled the kids upstairs and handed out vitamins, flossed and brushed teeth, found jammies that get the nod of approval, and laid in bed reading their bedtime stories, there are nights when all I can think of is those quiet moments that await us when we get back downstairs.

Sweet, peaceful, childfree adult time.

Bedtime pleas

But lately, my daughter has been trying to drag bedtime out.

Perhaps it’s because since she started all-day kindergarten this fall and our time together feels so limited or perhaps she’s just finally figured out that it’s within her power to drag things out.

I’m trying to convince myself that it's the former.

It wasn't so long ago that she had her first day of kindergarten >>

Echoes of childhood

And while I’m pretty resilient to most of her tactics, she stops me dead in my tracks with 13 simple words: “Will you lay with me and scratch my back for a few minutes?”

In an instant, I’m 5 years old again, asking the same thing of my mother. And, while I suspect that her desire to make her way back downstairs to enjoy the quiet was no less powerful than what I often feel, she never said no.

"Those five minutes each night added up to a memory that has lasted into my adulthood and influenced me to be the mother I am today and I am so grateful
to her."

She laid with me, there in the quiet darkness, and gave me five minutes of her evening. And I still remember how it felt. Laying there on my stomach, feeling her nails on my back and knowing that I was important enough to her for her to linger for those extra moments said more than any words ever could.

Those five minutes each night added up to a memory that has lasted into my adulthood and influenced me to be the mother I am today and I am so grateful to her.

Because I know first-hand just how much thoughts of bedtime can often fuel you through the end of a long day.

Thank you, Mom, so very much.

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Comments on "Practicing Gratitude: Five minutes from mom"

Cam October 22, 2012 | 10:27 AM

I can't wait for bedtime. What use to be a struggle is now one of my favorite parts of the day. My husband gets Emma ready for bed, then I go in and lay down with her until, well, one of us falls asleep. I rub her back and we quietly sign songs. It's the best part of my day.

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