The Things I Miss As Soon as I Put my Children to Bed

Dear Children,

As you lay sleeping in your beds, tired and still just a little bit sweaty from your summer fun, I have some confessions. I know that while you were awake, I might have expressed exhaustion about a number of these things. Nay, even frustration at some of them. But now that you are in bed, I am delighted to inform you that actually, I miss them all immensely. 

Number one: you crawling onto my lap while I try to read or write. In the moment, yes, it’s sometimes a huge distraction, but now that I’m sitting in my kitchen alone to write, I miss the smell of your hair, the way you’re all elbows and knobby knees and giggles, even if you fart on me. Check that, especially when you fart on me. 

Number two: When I’m having a rough time working, and you come up to me, and simply look at me for a long time, and finally say, “You’re such a cute little mama. I love you.” And then walk away. 

Number three: There is a very specific scent of summertime children, you feral, lovely beasts. You smell like sunblock and strawberries, the fresh-cut grass stuck to your bare feet, and bug spray. I know you’re in a room because it is bewitched with your perfect summer essence.

Number four: That thing the little ones always do when you pick them up and then suddenly there’s the feeling of a little hand pat-pat-patting your back, imitating the “there there” way it’s been done for them time and time again. Is it a reflex? Is it a desire to comfort the way they’ve been comforted? 

Number five: Your squeals of delight when I announce anything exciting. Going to the creek, going on a bike ride, new chalk for the porch, anything at all, and you are so genuinely excited about it! Once you’re all tucked in bed, I find that my world shrinks a little, and the mundane simply stays mundane and boring. With you, everything is an adventure, like Christmas morning over and over and over again. 

More than anything though, once the teeth have all been brushed and the bedtime stories have been read, and the bedtime songs sung and you’re all in bed, I feel a pang of longing for this never to stop. That every kiss goodnight will happen again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day after that — that there will never be a last time I read that book, or sing that song, or kiss that forehead just so. I know, of course, that that day will come. Not soon, but someday, you’ll decide, dear ones, that you are too old for such things. And I will miss these things, always.

But tonight? I miss them for a short time only, knowing that in the morning you’ll tramp into my bedroom bright and early, ready to begin another day. And I will have missed you. And I will eventually pull your jammies on over your heads at the end of the day, brush your teeth, sing your songs, and miss you as I look forward to the next morning when we do it all again.

But maybe not the farting on me. Could we cut that out of the sweet moments? 

I’ll still miss you either way, of course. Just asking…

Love,

Mama

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