The kids wouldn’t go to sleep tonight. They sat in their beds and read books and played Legos and skittered down the stairs to suggest that they might sleep better if they could just get some scissors out of my office and create a pretend computer out of paper before turning in for the night. The air was full of whispers and giggles and "thunks" that shouldn’t have been.
The baby was no better. At seven months old, she’s like a tiny Dora the Explorer, always on a quest to discover something new. “Carpet. Plant leaves. Dirt in the mouth! Say it with me.” Even though she’d been awake since 2:30 – or more likely, because she’d been awake since 2:30; over-stimulation, anyone? – she wasn’t the least bit interested in sleeping. She squirmed through my attempts to nurse her, she lurched toward the floor where her blocks beckoned. She spit up, for good measure. She made a spectacular dirty diaper, for even better measure.
And I just wanted them all to go to sleep. “Be sweet little children, and give Mommy her hour of alone time before her head falls off.”
Then I remembered this quote from Anna Quindlen about her years as a parent.
The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
Ah yes. The next thing. I'm a master at looking ahead, especially on nights like this, when I'm solo-parenting. Dinner, bath, book, bed. I have no energy to soak up the details. I'm just trying to survive.
But that's no way to live.
So the kids finally fell asleep, and I fell onto the couch to record this: a lesson on living in the moment. Because when I read this post in a few years, I won't remember the exhaustion. I won't remember the march through the bedtime routine.
I'll remember the giggles and the smiles and the trusting faces. I'll remember how much I love being a mom.
It's worth it. Even when they won't go to sleep.
Find Kelly also blogging at Love Well.