For us, it's late. We are not night owls by nature. Josh gets up at four in the morning for work. I get up in the night with a nursing baby. So sleep is all we want come nine o'clock. And yet we seem to have a few children born to stay up late.
They seem to have a lot to say when all I want to say is "Goodnight, I love you" and turn the light off.
They have stories to tell, ideas to share, questions to ask. Requests for water or the blanket left downstairs. Sometimes I feel so bone-weary I just want to cry. Sometimes I just want a few precious moments to myself and I don't think I can take any more talking, any more needing me.
There are nights like tonight when I get the baby to sleep, nursing as I watch an episode of Reading Rainbow with the older kids. The oldest goes to bed with a request to turn his light off. Brown-Eyed Girl goes to bed surprisingly easy. But Petite has tears in her eyes. She's wants to color, to draw, to do anything but turn the lights off and go to sleep. And I'm so tired, I'm so in need of a few moments to myself. But she snuggles up to me and I know that she needs me. My little one who seems to get left behind so often.
So I lay the baby in his crib. I choose a few stories to read. And we snuggle up together and share the familiar stories. I see her grin and hear her laugh as I read Kitten's First Full Moon. After Mama, Do You Love Me? she asks "Is that how much you love me?" She asks for more. One more, I say.
Two more? she counters.
She brings back two, saying she can't choose between Goodnight Gorilla and Merry Christmas, Stinky Face. I give in and read both.
I think of how this is the second copy of Goodnight Gorilla we have had. It's always been one of her favorites. I can't remember now if one copy was lost or destroyed, but I remember finding a replacement at Goodwill at just the right time. And she still loves it. She still grins. She still loves to see the animals following the zookeeper to his house and up to his room to go to bed.
I am tired. But so thankful God gave me the grace, the nudge, the last bits of energy to grab a few books off the shelf and spend these moments with my little girl. I think that these are moments she will remember, maybe not specifically, but generally, someday, remembering how mama always read to her. How she might be in Goodwill herself someday and come across a copy of Goodnight Gorilla and grin as she thumbs through it, remembering all the times we read it, knowing it by heart.
And I think that I made a lot of mistakes today as a mom. But that this wasn't one of them.
Goodnight, sweet girl.