Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In rest shall be your strength

The clock read 9:05 p.m., past the time when all good little three year olds should be wandering the halls of dreamland. Sitting with my back up against the sliding bathroom door, I held my book in the shaft of light the gap emitted and stroked some curls the color and texture of cornsilk. The last sniffles, a remnant of her reaction to being told that no, she could not fix my hair like Princess Leia's tonight, that would have to wait until morning, softened into slow breathing as the head on my lap grew still and heavy.

I suppose that if I were a good American mommy, I would have trained my daughter long ago to fall asleep on her own, to self-soothe without needing my presence. And sometimes, she does. But most nights, she still wants me with her, wants me guiding her up the gangplank onto her ship of dreams instead of plunking her on the dock with a brief wave goodbye. She wants to share the final sparks of the day's ideas with me, even when I wish I could fine the mute button. She wants to sing good night to all the relatives. She wants tender caresses on the back of her small head.

Watching my children fall asleep, and then sitting with them for a few minutes more to soak in that look of utter contentment, has been one of motherhood's great joys for me. Oh, sure, there have been nights, especially with children #1 and #3, whose brains have trouble winding down to a catatonic position, when I imagined more convenient ways of going about things. But this is an apparent sacrifice I've chosen to make, and the rewards are hidden and tender.

By midafternoon today, the truth glared back at me: I'd done too much "doing" for/with my kids (nieces included), and not nearly enough "being." In a burst of creative energy, I'd stuffed their little brains with a lesson on silk worms, lured them into Japanese costume-making, and enlisted their cooperation on won-ton soup for lunch. I'd dealt with a shattered connection in the hose outside that caused water to inundate the yard and my clothing (how did I deal? After ten minutes of frustration, called The Husband, of course!).

But when my niece complained a bit about the flavor of the wontons, I nearly snapped at her, barely keeping the sarcasm from my voice. I'd been busy busy busy, providing, preparing, teaching, cleaning, not maintaining my blood sugar, not connecting with my spirit, not truly just BEING with the kids. My hems were starting to fray, and it showed.

I needed to slow down, to let go, to reconnect with my power source and then with these human beings who need a happy mom/aunt more than they need another great learning experience.

Have enough of those epiphanies, and those moments of nighttime parenting, the chances to sit in the quiet, whispering, breathing deeply and holding a hand, become not simply a habit or a tradition but a way for two weary souls to whisper "I love you" without even needing words.


Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful sentiment, beautifully expressed. I can't wait to just be after some of this moving madness is resolved.

Stephanie said...

What a beautiful picture.

Vanessa said...

Lovely post. We just need to "be" and not "do." It's sometimes so hard to stop all the doing since we think it's what counts, but really our being mom is what really matters. This reminds me of our christian life--stop the doing and just enjoy Him.

Tim (DH) said...

Well said. Night times are special once you learn how to enjoy them. I'm so glad that you are the mother of my children. <3

Avery said...

what a very good reminder. thank you for sharing! i certainly need the reminder to "be" rather than "do" more often.