4.11.09

Confessions

"Mama. Mama. Mama," she calls, "Just one more thing."

My hand hovers on the doorknob, poised for escape. On the other side of that door is sweet relief that I made it through another day, quiet, and time to myself, time to get things done. I am almost free, but no.

I sigh, turn back toward her. "What is it sweetie?" I ask, trying to keep the irritation from leaking through.

"Mama? When all your work is done can you come in and lay down next to me? And if I'm awake can you rub my back and sing me a song. But if I'm NOT awake can you still give me a hug and lay down next to me for a little while?"

Every night it's the same question. Usually I cut her off mid sentence, so great is my desire to escape. "Yes, I'll lay down next to you, but you'll probably be asleep by then and won't know it," I hedge. "Goodnight, I love you, go to sleep."

I slip out quickly, hoping to cut off any more talk. I'm done. I'm tired. Bedtime exhausts me and I long for it to end.

Some nights I completely forget to go back into that room before dragging myself into bed several hours later. More than I would like to admit. Some nights I lay down, remember, and get up again to go in and hug her, though she never wakes, so I'll know I kept my promise to her.

I don't go back in before she's asleep if I can avoid it. She takes longer to sleep if I'm in with her, and talks and talks until my mind blanks out entirely and I fall asleep before she does. I can't afford naps like that. They have me up far too late at night, doing work that should have been done earlier. Little still takes so long to get to sleep and I feel I have nothing left for the Girl who has finally learned to fall asleep on her own.

Yet every night she falls asleep, happily hoping that I will come in and spend some extra time with her, sing to her, and rub her back.

I'm aware, as I choose not to most nights, that one day I'll wish I had. One day I will regret not taking the opportunity, every night, to spend some more time with my little girl. She will be all grown up and gone and I will wish I could hold her again and spend more time. I even think to myself that if she were to suddenly die tomorrow, the one thing I would regret the most is not going in before she sleeps and laying down with her and singing to her one last time.

I know this is important, and yet, at the end of the day, it feels impossible. Or I just don't want to. Or both. I feel her question like a weight, another burden added to my already full load. Or perhaps it is my own selfishness that burdens me so, I never can tell.

There are so many choices like this that we parents are confronted with. Pay the bills or read a story? Make a healthy nutritious dinner or play together outside and eat something convenient? Lay down with my little girl, or do work that keeps 35 other children I've never met, and hopefully many more, from starving to death or being sold in the street while mine safely rests in her bed on the other side of the wall.

Sometimes the choices we have to make tear our hearts apart. We can never be present as much as we would like. We will always wonder if in the moments when we are, it is enough? Or at least, I will, every night when I hear, "Just one more thing mama, just one more thing," and then shut the door.

30 comments:

  1. RAchel2:10 PM

    I understand what you are going through. I have three kids and there are times when I am trying to accomplish something that they are begging for attention. It's more than I can take at times. I just hope that I can balance it all out.

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  2. I relate so much to this post that I could hardly bear to read it. I sit with my two youngest most nights til the 4 year old goes to sleep, maybe 10 minutes or so.

    But each evening, invariably as I get up to leave, my 7 year has another and another and another thing to say to me. I have to literally force myself to stop, force myself to let her say two things, or maybe 3, before I escape.

    I feel like I am using my very last dregs of patience, and some evenings all I have the patience for is ONE comment and response...even though I know darn well she's growing up so fast.
    Ahhh...mom guilt stinks.

    Last night, I saw the Hillsong I-Heart Revolution documentary, and a quote stuck with me. A gal who was talking about her imperfect striving to do better in life said, "If I don't have it, Jesus does." I trust that He will also fill the gaps in my parenting...
    Hugs,
    Mary, mom to many
    PS- we need to meet in person some day!

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  3. [out of the woodwork . . . though I read your blog regularly, most of the posts are absorbed vs. commented on.]

    Oy! The tug that pulls hardest on the heartstrings...

    Isn't it beautiful that she loves you so much that she just can't get enough? That in itself could bring tears to a mama's eyes.

    It is so hard.

    Contemplating things like these, I'm always brought back to questioning the set-up of the nuclear family. There just aren't enough adults to go around. Yet, brought up the way I was/am, a clan family structure would drive me bonks. And I'd probably be jealous if it were someone else snuggling with my little one. Or maybe that [the nightly extra-snuggle] would be my refuge from my ever-present extended family.

    As it is, what else can we do? Love them - sacrfice for them. Take care of ourselves... I get ansty during the nighttime snuggle to sleep, especially when I have a To Do list waiting for me, but lately I've been sure to remind myself of how lovely it is to cuddle with their sweet, and most wonderfully, still-calm-quiet, little bodies. I have to remember that. Always!

    It sounds like you've made peace with it, though it will always cause a mama to get a little teary during times of deeper contemplation.

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  4. Came over here per Owlhaven's recommendation; What a beautiful, heart-squeezing post. It gave me lots to think about...

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  5. This just made me cry. I've had this very situation. After spending all day homeschooling and tending to my children, then taking care of the needs of my foster child when he gets home from school, to trying desperately to grab a few moments of undivided time with my husband...I just don't want to go in a lay down to snuggle or sing a song. I am so tired. I want the day to end. It feels bad to type that. Especially since my life is my devotion to my kids. You're not alone.

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  6. I think we all go through this all.the.time. Just this week, though my 9yo boy was having a hard time and I laid down with him at bedtime to talk and snuggle. What a difference it made to both of us in his stressful week! (Mary sent me, too!)

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  7. Oh, with tears in my eyes... yes- I know this.

    Steph

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  8. Wow. I just put my daughter to bed and she asked me almost the same thing - after you take a shower and watch TV will you come back in and cuddle with me?

    Very thoughtful post!

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  9. Anonymous6:28 PM

    I am right there with you! Every night I am faced with the same dilemma. Now, I am also faced with another: how to tell my 8 yr. old that her best friend will soon die from leukemia. This one has taught me that we have only now. We may have tomorrow and I will care for that day as much as I can today, but in the end - we have now. Don't waste a second of it.

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  10. As I sit here a little choked up because I can so relate to this. My 4 1/2 year old talks all the time and asks so many questions and just wants that one last hug. Sometimes it is overwhelming. But you are so right. I woul miss all those things if they were gone tomorrow.
    Thank you for helping me remember to live today.

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  11. I'm so glad that I stopped by from Owlhaven... It's times and words like this that make me want to weep, pray, and wonder what I have to do that's any better than to lay next to my kids and have them fall asleep against me. (Especially the 5 y.o. that is growing more and more independent...) I actually had the peace and unhurried attitude last night for the first time in a long time to lay with my daughter until she fell asleep. It was wonderful. Thank you for putting into words what I think most parents feel most nights. What a powerful post...

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  12. Over from Mary's suggestion too - and SO glad I stopped to read! Lovely writing that speaks to my heart and reminds me, slow down and cherish every moment. I can cook gourmet, and have a spotless house when all that is left is a phone call from some of their distance travels. ::sigh::
    God Bless

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  13. Thank you for sharing. This is an almost nightly thing for my 4 year old son and I too.
    And once I get him to bed, I battle the anger that pops up too quickly when he runs out of the room for "Just more hug".

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  14. Wonderful post, I too came by way of Owlhaven, and I have to tell you that by experience, when possible take the time and strive for patience. I have 17 year old triplets that will soon be off to college, they are so busy that now I'm the one that wants to ask them to sit with me a little while longer...

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  15. I just cried my way through this post...

    my son, only 2 and adopted from Ethiopia at 6months - is growing up so fast I can hardly stand it. On the other hand, the 52 "mama"s he calls out per minute that we have going grind me to my last nerve some days...

    and then the guilt...remembering how quickly he is growing up and that too soon I will be asking him to spend time with me and he will be too busy with life and friends.

    it makes me weep - how do we find balance...how do we not take them for granted. How do we not miss out and yet take good care of ourselves too?

    Lord, help!!

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  16. Anonymous1:34 AM

    Came over from Owlhavens blog. I'm so glad I did, I know just how you feel.

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  17. Also from Owlhaven... wonderfully honest post. And so true. Its been a struggle of mine for some time. And I think I'm losing. But what a great reminder to renew the fight. My kids are worth it.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Sweet post. You are not alone! Such is the struggle for all mama's. We are wiped out by evening time. That doesn't mean we do not love our babies. We have needs and wants too.
    And it's not selfish to have them.

    I have teenagers now. When they were little.....we would lay in bed at night and read and sing and giggle.....and make up stories...and hug one more time and scratch backs.....and pray!
    I have watched them grow into healthy loving young people. They still enjoy that same sort of stuff at night.
    Kids just seem to open up best at bedtime. Especially during teen years. Life is complicated and those are the years you start realizing that.
    My being willing (and my hubby) to lay in bed with them....talking, praying....dreaming gives them a chance to talk out what's going on in their hearts.
    I love it!
    But some nights....I'm just like every other mom! I'M POOPED!!!

    What a privilege it is....to be their mom!

    You sound so sweet! This is a season in life....remember that.

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  19. I go through this every night with my five year old and as I type this tears are streaming down my cheeks. I know that he will be grown and i will want this time back and yet now I too want the day to be done and my time with my husband to begin.

    I don't know the answer, just know that you are not alone. And encouraging to the rest of us in your honesty.

    Many hugs,
    Heidi

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  20. Owlhaven seems to be a popular jumping off point, I'm visiting from there too.....when my daughters were little they wouldn't fall asleep unless I sat with them. I did have to tell them that after prayers it was quiet time. How did I fill those countless minutes until slumber, I spent them in prayer specifically for my precious daughters. Ok, some times I dozed. But now they don't need me to be in their room while they fall asleep and some nights I miss it! Treasure every moment. Besides, somedays you just have to put all the "work" aside and share a moment. It's worth it! :D

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  21. Another person here via Owlhaven. I relate -- this post made me choke up. My 5-year-old and 3-year-old both do the same thing, every night. I work a second job (from home) after they go to bed, and most nights, after working my first job and commuting and everything and then putting them to bed, I just want to get the rest of the work done and get to bed myself. But I make myself stop and snuggle for a few minutes. Sometimes just two minutes.

    I have three older kids too (my step kids), and every time I look at their teenage and tween faces, I remember the times I didn't stop and snuggle, 5 or 6 or 9 years ago. They rarely want a snuggle now, and I do wish I had taken every opportunity to do so back then, even when I was too tired.

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  22. I haven't read all the comments, so I'm pretty sure I'm repeating here -- but that was beautiful. Those little voices just wanting one more moment of our time can seem so draining, even while we want desperately to hear them.

    I know that when my daughter does this, it's to stall bedtime more than anything else. So I start to justify it by not indulging her in the sneaky way she tries to get me to stay. But then I think about all the times in the future when I'll be the one wheedling for HER presence. I'll be the one begging for one more snuggle or song or kiss. And I'm captured once again in her snare. Tiredly. Grumpily, perhaps. But never regretted.

    This post was darn near perfect. Thank you for writing it so beautifully.

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  23. Anonymous10:35 AM

    I too can totally relate to the post. It brought tears to my eyes. I make these same promises and hear these requests for snuggle time and they are such pure sweet requests for just ME and yet I so often feel resentment on hearing them and have to struggle to answer with patience. All the while knowing how much I will one day miss such requests and long for the days of snuggle time.

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  24. I too popped over from Mary's suggestion. This post melts my heart. My 5 year old is full of words. We have her journal 10 sentences each night. If she can get that done in 20 minutes, she gets "stay up" another 10 minutes to draw a picture too. This seems to have alleviated a lot of the extra energy as she's channeled her words. Can she spell everything? No. Does she ask questions while she's writing? Yes. But I have her do her journal while I am nearby, usually preparing for the breakfast rush (the evening before) or while I'm completing a task.

    Like Mary quoted "If I don't have it, Jesus does". Thank goodness for His grace! The journal is helping us to bridge that gap. For the moments when I've lost patience to guide the journal, we've Got Jesus :)

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  25. Wow, excellent post. As many others have said, I can relate. I struggle with this all the time. Thanks for articulating it so well.

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  26. my 7 yr old is autistic and talks endlessly- she gets locked into a thought or topic and just can't stop herself. There are so many days where, for the sake of my sanity, I have to cut her off mid sentence and I often feel so guilty- would that extra couple of words REALLY been the end of my coping? Sadly, probably. And, I wonder if she is going to grow up feeling like she needs to eat all of her words instead of letting them out because mom couldnt hang with the extraordinary verbosity

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  27. Ahhh, the dilemma of everyone with small children. I am glad, in a sense, to know that i'm not the only one!! Have had those same thoughts, what if this is the last time to hug and kiss and cuddle??? They are growing so fast, will I remember these cherished times or my yelling at the children and dirty laundry? So many things in life require balance and I'm failing in that area. :(

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  28. Ahhh, the dilemma of everyone with small children. I am glad, in a sense, to know that i'm not the only one!! Have had those same thoughts, what if this is the last time to hug and kiss and cuddle??? They are growing so fast, will I remember these cherished times or my yelling at the children and dirty laundry? So many things in life require balance and I'm failing in that area. :(

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  29. Wow. I just put my daughter to bed and she asked me almost the same thing - after you take a shower and watch TV will you come back in and cuddle with me?

    Very thoughtful post!

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  30. I think we all go through this all.the.time. Just this week, though my 9yo boy was having a hard time and I laid down with him at bedtime to talk and snuggle. What a difference it made to both of us in his stressful week! (Mary sent me, too!)

    ReplyDelete

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