My dad always tucked us in. It was this ritual — I don’t know when it ended — that I looked forward to each night. My favorite part: He’d make the bed with me in it, pulling the sheets tight and tucking them under the mattress until I felt like I was strapped to the bed and could barely move. Then he’d mess with my hair or tickle my nose while I struggled to get a hand free and swipe at him.
The result of this was a comforted feeling. I felt loved, snug, and safe as I drifted off to sleep.
I was so very lucky.
Now that I’m a parent, I look forward to my kids’ bedtime. It’s a quiet time. A peaceful time. A loving time. I draw strength and love from those moments, and I hope they do too.
My son protests going to bed — loudly. But once we’ve started to brush his teeth, he settles into the pattern: Two minutes of teeth brushing, funny noises while he wipes his mouth, a kiss for his dad and sister, and then we’re off to his room, bouncing and swaying the entire way.
He smiles at me when I lay his head on the pillow and ask if he’s ready. Then it begins. The deluge. You see, I bury him beneath a mound of stuffed animals every night.
And every night he giggles uncontrollably while I do it.
These toys construct a mound so high that I can barely see him in the video monitor. The mound only goes up to his armpits, but there is a hierarchy: Elephants and bears and one giraffe comprise the base, followed by the smaller animals. Once buried, I tuck them all in “nice and snuggy tight” with his blanket. It’s a special blanket. Something I kept for him from my childhood.
He loves that blanket.
Then, once he’s settled in and snuggling with two (or four) of his favorites for the night, I lean in and tell him I love him. I kiss his forehead, each cheek, his mouth, and his chin. I rub noses with him while he smiles into my eyes and snuggles in deeper. One more kiss on the top of his head. “Sweet dreams, my love. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Then it’s my daughter’s turn: Kisses from Daddy and we traipse into her bedroom and close the door.
We retrieve a binky from her crib, and turn on her lullaby crib toy before settling into the glider with a bottle and snuggle. And man does this kid know how to snuggle. I glide slowly while she drinks and alternately grasps onto my shirt and tugs at my hair. When she reaches for my face, which is often, I kiss her hand — prompting smiles, spilled milk, more reaching, and more kisses.
When she’s done with her bottle, I lay it aside, hand her the binky, and cuddle a bit longer. She smiles at me constantly, sometimes drifting asleep, sometimes not, but always reaching her hand up for more kisses.
She wakes up when I stand. I kiss her cheeks until I reach her crib and lay her down. She reaches for another binky before rolling to her side as I hit the button for her lullaby to play again. “Goodnight my love. Sweet dreams. I’ll see you in the morning.” She smiles at me, then turns her head and closes her eyes before I can close the door. One of these days, I’ll finish the blanket I started making when I found out I was pregnant with her, and when she’s old enough for blankets, I’ll use it when I tuck her in.
I am so very lucky.
In the morning, he calls to us from beneath his burrow of blanket and toys. When we open the door, we’re greeted with smiles, kisses, and get to hear him name every animal in his bed. Sometimes he tells them to “get up” and we watch in amusement as he picks each one up, runs to the doorway, and tosses it into the hall.
He’s usually dressed and eating breakfast by the time we walk into his sister’s room to get her up. Most days, she’s already awake — but merely chilling out until we walk in. Other times, she’ll call for us, then babbles to herself until we get there. Either way, we’re greeted with smiles and a laugh.
And we are so very lucky.