My oldest came to my room after bedtime and said, “Caroline keeps saying she needs you.”
I went upstairs and looked at my sweet little one, who is now four, curled up under her covers peacefully. I said, “Do you need me?” She nodded. I knelt down, crawled into bed with her, and snuggled up close. “Lullaby, and goodnight…” I softly began to sing. I rubbed her head and nuzzled my nose into her hair, and felt the delicateness of her soft skin. She lay there precious and still, with heavy eyelids, and I kissed her head and thought, “How many times have I rushed bedtime? How many moments like this have I lost?”
And it was there in her bed in that quiet moment that I realized how much she needed me, and how much I had neglected that need.
When my straggly-haired hippie girl was only two-years old I did everything I could to get her to go to bed, but she wouldn’t stay put. Sometimes she would get out of bed 20 times, and just about every time she would say, “I just want to be with you.”
I thought she was disobeying, and I felt like I was going crazy because I was so tired and I just wanted my own time; I needed a break. So after trying all sorts of discipline techniques, after crying, after praying, I would sometimes get angry and I took it out on that little girl just trying to figure out how to be with her mama. Because that’s what it was about, she just needed me, maybe in bed with her, rubbing her head, singing to her, loving her; she just needed me to be with her. And all my fighting of it did nothing but cause pain and tears and regret.
I know this now, and so here is what I have to say to all you tired mamas out there:
I know you’re about worn out, and most days, bedtime can’t come soon enough. You need a break or you feel like you will lose. your. mind. Seriously, I know. But let me tell you, it hurts to lie down next to your baby and realize just how much you missed the ball when it came to her needs. It hurts when you remember how you thought you needed to discipline her when really, she just needed you to lie down and cuddle and comfort.
Do you remember when you were little and how you wanted your mom or dad to stay with you just a little while longer? Do you remember ever having your head rubbed and how good that felt? Did you ever get sung to?
I’m telling you friend, sometimes we need to just quit fighting and give in. I know there are nights you just can’t give anything else, and that’s okay, God knows. But on the nights you can push through just a little more, do it. Sing to your two-year old, snuggle down close in their bed, rub their head, nuzzle into their hair, and whisper, “You are a delight” (even if you don’t feel it).
“You can go now, mama.” Caroline says.
I smile, roll off her bed, and quietly leave her room. She got her fill, and now she can sleep. Oh that girl, the wild one, she is truly a delight. I whispered those words to her so many times praying that they would eventually be true, and now, without a doubt, they are 100% true. She is utter joy to me.
She just needed to grow up a little bit.
And honestly, so did I.
Because what I know now that I didn’t know then, was that she just wanted me. Just how God made it so – a little one to want, to need her mama.
Just like your little one needs you.