It’s been a long day. You’ve been home alone with two small children who have been pulling and poking at you and each other since the sun came up. You’ve done laundry and dishes and vacuumed and you’ve done it all at least three times. Dinner has been served and put away, baths are done and you have just sat down for the first time since waking. But wait, the kids are still awake and there is still plenty to do. You know you've been working all day to make your children feel safe. But you can't help but wonder if they have noticed or know that they are in fact safe; that they are in fact loved. You wonder if today made any difference for their future or whether or not they "need" to have a bedtime story.
How tempting it is to hurry them off to bed so that you can get some much needed “you time.” The sooner they are tucked in and asleep, the sooner “your time” begins; the sooner the pulling and poking ends. As you enter the bedroom, ready for the bedtime Daytona 500 and ritualistic requests for water, bathroom visits and hugs, your youngest pulls out a short pile of books to read. You exhale just a little and wonder if you have the energy for this. “OK,” you say, “but just one.” Reluctant to settle for just one, they both hop into bed and you begin the story you've read so many times you barely need the book.
As you turn pages, the little giggles begin; the children cuddle up next to you and you slowly sink deeper into the comfort of the children's size bed. For a few moments all is right with the world. The arguments and tantrums of the day are gone, you are not thinking about the dishes in the sink or the lunches that still need to be packed; about whether or not the day has mattered at all; you are not thinking about their future. It’s just you and them. The house around you may be in shambles as tomorrows laundry is piling up and your “you time” quickly fades away.
As you finish the story, the children still awake, one reaches up and hugs you. You don't bother wondering if it is a stall tactic or genuine. Instead you take it in and embrace the child and the moment. You are helping your children feel safe. Inside you know tomorrow night will probably go differently. Tomorrow night they may kick and scream and make you crazy. You may not have the energy needed for a story. You also know soon enough they will move out and be on their own. They will be out in the world looking for stability and comfort. But tonight, for now, they are and feel safe. And down the road, when they are gone and you have all the “you time” you want, they will still feel safe and loved because you took this time for them.