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Because Sometimes Bedtime Takes Forever

by Kari Patterson

honestly

July 6, 2014

Because Sometimes Bedtime Takes Forever

It all happened tonight.

Five minutes earlier we had been laughing. But now I pulled her blankets up, kissed her round, peach cheeks, and saw a flash of sadness and fear in her eyes.

“What is it, baby girl? What’s wrong?”

Her eyes filled, face twisting into that sadness, the kind we hold back, even as children, holding fear at bay but then something breaks the dam and it all floods forward.

She held her breath for a moment, the words spilled out: “I don’t want my teeth to fall out!” 

Tears streamed down her cheeks, her tiny body shaking with sobs, eyes shut in sadness.

“Oh sweetie! Your teeth won’t fall out! Why do you think they’ll fall out?” Whatever birthed this belief, clearly it was tormenting her.

She held her breath again, unable to say the words. I know that feeling, baby girl. Finally she spit out the truth. “Because I suck my thumb. Because I suck my thumb, my teeth are moving back and I’ll have to get braces and my teeth will fall out.”

“Oh sweetie. Your teeth won’t fall out. And even if you have to get braces, that’s ok. Are you feeling like you’re ready to stop sucking your thumb?” She nodded, fear and hope mixed in her tears.

“Ok. That’s a great plan. I’ll snuggle you and we’ll play music and I’ll hold onto your hands.”

As with most meltdowns, the issue is never the issue.  We snuggled, but the tears kept coming. Her body shook with sobs. She couldn’t slow her breath. Fifteen minutes turned to twenty, and thirty turned to forty-five. I propped up on my elbow and saw sadness deeper than teeth issues. She finally choked out words between sobs:

“I want to … remember … this night forever. And that other night … when you snuggled me for a long time … I want to remember both nights forever, how you snuggled me.”

“Ok, yes. Let’s remember this forever.”

“And …” her voice caught in tears, when I’m all grown up will you write down a list of all the things I did when I was little? So I can always remember?” I looked into her eyes, bewildered and suddenly caught by the significance of this question.

“Yes! Of course, sweetie. I’ll write everything down, so we can remember together. When …” and now my voice caught, “when you’re all grown up.”

I leaned my face down, my wet cheek against hers. I can already see her at 14, tall with brown curls, muscular legs and still-round cheeks. She’s laughing with her head thrown back in a wide-eyed wonderment. Will I still be here? Will she still be here? What will be different? What will I wish I had done? Will I have any regrets? Will I remember all the things she did “when she was little” so I can write them in a list? 

I couldn’t breathe.

I don’t know how long we lay there, her tiny body wrapped up in mine. But the summer evening sun turned to darkness and the air cooled, coming through the window. At some point she asked for daddy. Jeff joined us. Eventually she stilled. Asleep. 


 

Kari Patterson is wife to one church-planting pastor-husband, mommy to two squirrely home-school kids, scrap-thrower to three quirky chickens, and author of five ebooks, including Plenty: 31 sips of joy for moms everywhere. She speaks locally and internationally to thousands and writes at karipatterson.com, encouraging women to celebrate the sacred in the midst of the mundane.  


 

What is one memory you want to write down so you don’t forget when your littles are grown up?

Share your thoughts

This makes me just ache because our kids are at many different stages in life: we have a soon-to-be 20 yr. old daughter in college, and four sons--one in high school, junior high, elementary, and a three year old. Our 3 year old was a sort-of planned, sort of not baby. We weren't trying, but we weren't stopping it- if you know what I mean. I've written down phrases that all our kids have said--and still say (even the college kid). She loves to mix like-sounding words, and not by accident!! However, my husband and I just REALLY cherish our baby #5--actually all our kids do. We know there is light at the end of the tunnel on all those difficult moments they go through. If I could keep them little, I would. But then I see all the great things our older kids are doing, and cherish that too!! Every stage is full of fun milestones. And, although they might not seem as bravo-d (like potty-training); those firsts are just as celebrated. God bless--and hold your kids tight!

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Thank you for this reminder! It' great to hear from somebody who has been though all the different phase and for the reminder to cherish the moments we are in right now!

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My son is 11 months old and soon he will be one and already! Before he was born we got him a special baby journal that goes up to the first 3 years of life. Family can even write in it and it also has places for pictures and other keepsakes. It even has Bible versus in it. I love it and I'm determined to work on it little by little until its finished and full of all kinds of thoughts and memories even silly memories just so he can know that he was always thought about and very much loved.

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Those books are so great! I wish I would have been better filling those out for my kids! It's great that you have that and he will love looking at it and reading it when he is older!

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I'm crying, too, just reading this! This past weekend, we woke our daughter up and brought her outside to watch fireworks. It was such a fun, special time.

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Those are great moments and great memories! Did she love the fireworks? I love watching kids watch fireworks!

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So now I'm crying! I keep a journal for my daughter and right down her milestones, funny things she says, and (almost) every big thing we do (like holidays, trips, zoo).

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Wow! That is great (not that you are crying, that you keep a journal)! I wish I would have been better at doing that with my kids. It's so fun to remember those moments and share them with the kids as they get older!

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