Mama, Talk Busy Day?
Cee was sick about a month ago – sick in a flu-sort of way with fever, cough, stuffy nose, and general misery. We threw our regular sleep routines out the window. There was a lot of back rubbing and singing to help her to sleep and more of the same when she woke burning with fever during the night, needing some reassurance from Mama or Daddy and another dose of ibuprofen.
Once she was better, Cee had a bit of a hard time transitioning back to our regular routine of books, song, and goodnight. She said, “Mama, lie down?” wanting me to stay with her until she fell asleep. I couldn’t get into that habit. I had humored her a few times, and I knew how it went. I would lay down next to her until her breathing slowed and she was still, but I’d still be afraid to budge for another 20 minutes to be sure she was in a deep sleep. By that time, I would either fall asleep myself or at the very least have lost all motivation to do anything productive for the rest of the night. Plus, I hate the sneaking out thing. It makes me feel like I’m not being honest with her. Cee knows how to go to sleep on her own.
Instead, I stayed with her for a few extra minutes. I held her hand and talked quietly about her day, full of friends at daycare, walks outside, time with mommy and daddy, meals, bath, books, and all the regular mundane things we do together. It was a busy day, I told her, and tomorrow would be another busy day. Time to rest, little girl. Night night. I kissed first one hand and then the other and then her forehead, now thankfully cool now since the fever was gone. It was a good bedtime. She fell asleep, and I got to work.
The next night, as I was kissing her goodnight, she said, “Mama, lie down?”
“No,” I said, “I’m not going to lie down with you. I need to go work upstairs.” (She actually accepts this response. It seems to make sense to her.)
She had another idea.
“Mama, talk busy day?”
And so began our new bedtime tradition. It’s Cee’s favorite part of bedtime now, and mine too. She asks for it with anticipation every night. When Husband is home at bedtime, he shares in it as well. We snuggle together in a Cee sandwich and recall the day.
I love going back through the day with Cee. She often tells us little details about her morning at daycare, and Husband and I remind her of special moments that we shared together – all the funny, sad, joyful, painful, delicious, creative, and scary ones. In this quiet space, little bits of the day come to light that might otherwise be lost in the rush of getting from here to there. After we say goodnight and leave the room, I often listen over the monitor as Cee runs through her own busy day monologue, telling her baby dolls all about it, until her voice fades to quiet.
These days, I feel like I can never get enough done. But snuggling with Cee at the end of the day and talking “busy day” puts things in perspective. It is like pulling special stones and shells from our pockets at the end of a day on the beach. We lay them out so we can see each one. We polish the bright spots and examine the dark crevices we hadn’t noticed when we first picked them up. Remember? This is the one that was almost washed away by a wave; I grabbed it just in time. Remember this one? It was the bridge to our sand castle. The castle is gone, but let’s keep this shell, OK? And this one? I noticed it because it looks like a heart. It will remind me of you.
Our lives are filled to the brim with little moments, so many that it is hard to do much besides move from one moment to the next. But if I worry that there is too much left to do at the end of my busy day, Cee’s little hand in mine reminds me of this: Of all the busy things we do, what could be more important for caring for the ones we love?