“Bedtime”, that lovely two hour span after dinner before anyone actually gets into bed, is not more fun than I expected it to be. But between camping and sleepovers, we’ve only done it here twice, and for one of those times I had an assistant. Yes, that’s cheating. No, I don’t care.

But after bedtime, there’s the quiet space where they really fall asleep, and that happens with or without the hours-long ritual, whether or not I stay to see it unfold. Tonight I did.

Watching Rio’s face sometimes I see glimpses of her adult face peeking through, the clear set of her eyes around long cheeks. It’s a face very different from what I imagined on her. More of her father than I see in her now, as a kid. Quiet, serious, focused, but also joyful and deeply grounded. I’m wary, of course, of projecting my visions of her future onto the soft clay of her childhood, but it’s nice to imagine her strong, free and different from who I thought she’d become. Especially as I watch her drift helplessly into sleep, clutching her baby doll under her chin, losing her way mid-sentence as she tries to demand another bedtime story in sign language.

Serena is growing up too. Tonight she finished nursing (finally! Who knew there was an end?), and then rolled and flopped and wiggled and turned. Eventually she sat straight up in bed, looked around for a moment assessing the situation, and began very earnestly pushing me off the mattress. She’d pick up my knee and give it a shove, then start pushing my belly…I got the message and moved to the rocker. From there, I watched her writhe and wiggle and sigh and tuck herself under the covers and then kick them off and then pull them back up until finally she so very slowly dropped her eyes shut and was gone to dreaming, hands folded behind her head as if napping on a sunny beach.

Good night girls. I’m glad we had this moment together. You’re beautiful. I do love watching you grow, even if I’m grouchy about how long it takes some days.

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