“Wait…don’t go.” It is barely a whisper. I’m just outside the room, my hand on the door knob pulling it closed, but I freeze. Silence. I’m suddenly unsure whether I heard anything at all.
“Just one more hug?”
I’ve been listening to these last-minute bedtime requests for so many years I can’t remember at what point they became part of the routine of tucking my children into bed.
“I have to go potty again.”
“Can you leave a light on?”
“Can I have a drink of water?”
All requests I’ve been able to dismiss/fulfill quickly and make my exit. However, the request for one more hug gets me every time. I often wonder if maybe they’re on to me having found the loophole in the bedtime routine. I’m a sucker for a hug and we’ve all had that day where we can use another hug.
As the sun is replaced by the light of the moon signifying the end of another day, we lay in bed reviewing the day’s events and briefly relive the feelings of the emotional roller coaster we didn’t buy a ticket to ride. Yet there we are, the clickety clack of the track adding to the anticipation of the rise and impending drop we face with both excitement and dread.
When my children were younger, I wondered what that rollercoaster felt like for their tiny bodies bursting with excitement over their favorite show, frustration at not being able to articulate their message, or anger at being obligated to take a nap. Then, the sheer exhaustion at the end of the day when their bodies betrayed them as their eyelids struggled to remain open and their little heads dropped in search of a pillow. That overtired feeling after a day packed with emotion often prompted the “one more hug” whisper as I was about to make my escape to load the dishwasher, throw one more load of laundry in the washing machine or watch the latest episode of Spartacus.
My children are now thirteen and ten and I still tuck them in at night. They may no longer need a drink of water or a nightlight, but some nights I’m caught off guard by the soft whisper before they drift off to sleep, “Just one more hug?”
Ironically, these days I find I’m not in such a hurry to speed through the bedtime routine. I can wait to find out whether Daryl is dead or alive. Instead, I linger in their rooms a little longer as though I sense these nights are slipping away. It’s as though the action of turning off their bedside lamp also dims our childhood routine a bit more each time. I lean in and inhale their scent though it no longer smells like Johnson’s baby shampoo and talcum powder. I find I hug them a little tighter, hold on to them a little longer.
There will come a time when they won’t request an extra bedtime hug let alone to be tucked in at night. They will grow up, move out, face the world with all the values I’ve instilled in them and possibly have children of their own to tuck in each night. The world will show them love and kindness, but it will also disappoint them and break their hearts. Tonight, as I stand outside their bedroom I pray they know I’ll always be right here, on the other side of the door, ready to give them “just one more hug.”
This post was written as part of Finish The Sentence Friday, “If I Only Had…”