Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The One on Time

It was late and I was tired. It had been another long day of school lessons, discipline, meetings, phone calls. I was ready for some down time, some me time. I wanted nothing more than to go downstairs and open my computer. To lose myself in the world wide web for awhile, reading other people's stories, wishing for their exciting lives, before crawling into my own bed, in my own life. It had become a nighttime ritual for me. I pushed open the bathroom door, emerging after my evening bath, and the bright light of the bathroom cast a warm glow in my otherwise dark bedroom. My eyes were drawn to my bed where Boss lay with our two daughters snuggled up against him. I stopped and gazed at their beauty. My sleeping beauties.

I was about to leave when I noticed it. When I noticed her. She was not asleep after all, despite how late it was and how long our day had been. My almost eight year old, my night owl, just like her mother. Her eyes were open and she was staring at me quietly. My computer was still beckoning me from downstairs, my me time was still calling. But so was my daughter. She was calling me with her eyes. So I did something that, quite sadly, I have rarely done the older she has gotten. I crawled into that big old bed with her and pulled her tight up against me. I began to smell her sweet hair, hair I don't stop to smell often enough now that she does all of her own bathing. I began to tickle her back, swirling love onto her skin with the tips of my fingers.

What are you doing, Mama? she asked.

Just snuggling you, baby. That was my reply.

Thank you, Mama, she said. I didn't think you liked being with me at bedtime.

And my heart broke a little bit at her words.

When I used to imagine motherhood, before I actually had children, grand bedtime routines would fill my head. My own mother used to tuck me in every night as a child. She would tickle my back and then my tummy. My dad would come in to kiss me. I did not love everything about my childhood, but this is something I do have fond memories of. And I thought it would be the same for my own children. I imagined evening devotions together, snuggled up in bed as a family. Maybe some story telling, definitely some back tickling, and prayers before we kissed their sweet cheeks and sent them off to dreamland.

But over the years something different evolved in our family. Something just as sweet and special to those involved, and something that is quite arguably one of my girls most favorite times of the day. Cuddle time, they call it. Each night my family kisses me good night and then Boss and our girls head up to bed for cuddle time, where they all three fall asleep in our bed in a big hug of love. I carry the girls to their own beds much later when I come up to find rest myself. Cuddle time is something I know Boss and our girls will cherish the memory of forever. But it is something that does not involve me. Because I had chosen for it not to. Because I had wanted me time instead.

So that night last week, when I pulled my oldest close, she was not meaning to hurt my feelings. Her words were not said in a hateful way, or with a hurtful tone. She was just surprised. Surprised that I was choosing to lay there quietly with her, instead of being downstairs spending time with, well, me. You know, I stayed there for well over an hour with her after that. I willed her to know how much she was loved by her mama. And I didn't place her in her own bed until her little eyelids had finally drifted shut for good.

I have been thinking a lot about those moments with my daughter this past week. I have not spent the past week thinking that I am a bad mother. Because I am not. It is not wrong that Boss and the girls have special things that I am not a part of. And it is not wrong that as a busy mama I desire some me time. Instead, I have spent this past week thinking about time and what a gift it is. A beautiful, amazing gift. And the most amazing thing about the gift of time is that we get to choose how we spend it. We get to choose whether we will spend our time on things of this world with no lasting value, or on good things. And sometimes we must choose between spending our time on good things or spending our time on the best things. Having some me time that night would have felt good. But on that particular night, spending time with my daughter felt better. It was the better choice.

Far too often I waste the gift of time, filling my days with meaningless things, things of no eternal value. And even worse, I often waste my time wishing I had someone else's life, someone else's time, instead of striving to make my time on this earth beautiful and amazing. Too often I settle for bad or good enough, instead of seeking out and spending time on the best. Spending time on what feels good in the moment, instead of spending time on things that will last. One night of cuddle time with my daughter taught me that. 24 hours in a day. That's all that we get, and there aren't any do overs. Let's make the most of it, this gift called time. The clock is ticking...