Every night around 7:30 or so, we start herding the kids upstairs for bed.
It’s a bit of chaos as we cycle the kids through the bathroom for their “peep and teeth”, then get each one into their jammies. S & H can both do this independently now, they just require the usual 2348294 reminders to get it done in a sort of timely fashion. P basically needs someone by his side to keep him focused, otherwise he flits back and forth between playing with toys and doing anything possible to annoy his brother.
Then it’s time for stories. They each choose their own book and M & I divide and conquer to read them. He’s usually the more popular choice, but tonight I got to read with both boys. H chose a Ninja Turtle story, and P wanted to read a book about the origins of Batman. It was definitely WAY too long so I may or may not have ended the book at a convenient point in the middle when he wasn’t watching closely. S chose a Star Trek graphic novel to read with M… I love that her interests are so varied.
After stories it’s time for bed. The boys climb into their bunks while I go through the room routine: turn off the lights, close the curtains, turn on their noise machine and switch on their moon lamps. They both also have little lanterns in their bed that they sleep with… it just makes them feel safe.
Then it’s time for songs.
I have been singing the same songs to each boy for years. I’ve offered to change it up more than once, but we always end up back in the same place. First H snuggles under his covers and holds his hand out in his top bunk. I slip my hand through the rail and quietly sing You Are My Sunshine while he closes his eyes to listen. Only then is he ready to roll over and go to sleep.
For P, it has always been Baby Mine… and I have to sing it twice. Usually he’s still bopping around the room or thrashing around in bed, but often once I start singing he quiets down, pulls my hand to his cheek and just smiles and listens.
I have loved that song since childhood, and while I’ve sang it off and on to all my children over the years, it’s definitely P’s song.
I have this vivid memory from last year, a few days after my miscarriage. I was still having a lot of trouble moving around after my tailbone injury, but I was so determined to be part of the bedtime routine. Everything felt so upside down and I was just desperate for a small piece of normal.
On this particular night I eased myself down to the floor next to his toddler bed, and we read stories and turned off the light. In the darkness, he asked me to sing Baby Mine to him, as I had done every night before we lost the baby.
I began to sing:
Baby mine, don’t you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine.
I barely made it through the first few words before I fell apart. I did my best to mask it, but little P knew something was wrong and just quietly wrapped his arms around me while I cried.
I couldn’t sing that song for a while after that.
Tonight, as he lay in his “big boy bed” on the bottom bunk, I held his hand and sang his song. Something about the way he held my hand to his cheek brought me back to that night. I felt a wave of emotion wash over me, and for a second it felt as fresh as it did that night last year.
This time I kept singing and felt it ebb.
I looked into the eyes of my not-so-little boy and just felt a quiet gratitude. I’m grateful that in the depth of that loss, I didn’t lose our song forever. I took that back. It’s not always easy, but even on the hard days I find there are always small moments to remind me:
Life is good. ❤️