Every night out bedtime routine is the same. We start by getting pajamas ready, matching sets of superheroes and princesses before taking turns brushing our teeth in front of the sink. Elbows battle over who gets peer at themselves in the mirror first as the basin fills with water and clumps of blue bubble gum flavored toothpaste. Lots of giggles echo from the shared hall bathroom before soft footsteps scamper into the living room ready for bedtime stories.
A heavy book of Winnie the Pooh tales lands in my lap, with pages worn well from many toddlers’ fingers, we select an excerpt with a child at each foot and follow along to the adventures of Christopher Robin and his loving friends Pooh, and Eeyore, Rabbit, and Roo. Before long eyes start to grow heavy and we make our way back to the bedrooms.
Messy heads of hair hit the pillow and prayers get whispered. Nolan, age 5, climbs into bed and kisses my cheek good night before ordering lights out. One last request faintly heard in the dark, “a little cup of ice cold water, please.” Okay, dear boy, I’ll be right back, I say.
Leah, age 3, pulls her favorite pink blanket up from the bottom of her bed up to her nose with a baby doll, a stuffed purple bunny, a plastic toy soldier, and tea cup all tucked up with her. Sometimes she takes a bit more coaxing to rest. I rub her back gently and push stray blond hairs from her eyes and I tell her how much I love her. Most nights she goes right to sleep, but for some she holds me tight and begs me to lay with her for a little while longer, to play a little while longer, to love on her a little bit longer. I kiss the top of her head and try to sneak close the door. Sometimes I make it, most of the time I don’t before another voice yells out, “mommy, can I have a little glass of ice cold water, please?”
Two little cups of water drawn from the kitchen sink and delivered to their nightstands accompanied by one last kiss good night.
I nurse my youngest and rock him gently to sleep. I don’t rush to lay him down because I want to soak up every bit of his last baby goodness. I remember fondly doing the same with my oldest two. Rocking milk drunk babies and watching them sweetly breathe in and out. That baby’s body, just one month old, still curls up cozily against my chest, his forehead leans into my neck and I melt into him because he is just that delicious. As each day passes and the number of days he’s been out of my body get greater than when he was in, this baby boy stretches out and those newborn wrinkles fill out. He’ll be sleeping on his own soon, out of my arms soon, out of a crib soon – like his big brother and sister.
Baby days pass so quickly. Before long he’ll be in a big kid bed with toys and trinkets strewn all about, asking for one more story or song. Then eventually he’ll just be asking for his own little cup of ice cold water. But even those days will be few as he’ll need me less and less. The day will come when no one will need me to bring them little cups of water anymore.
So I’m going to drink up the gift of being their mama today. Drink it up, drink it up, every last ice cold drop as long as it lasts.