Monday, November 24, 2014

A Week Of Thankfulness: Day One

Walking with Ranger as evening fell, I was passing by my secret place yesterday when I glanced up and noticed the cheery glow from one small square window.

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Immediately, I thought of bedtime stories. The romantic notion swelled up inside of me that this light shines out from a bedside lamp; nearby, a clean-scrubbed toddler in cozy fresh pajamas with the blanket pulled up to her precious chin is listening to a story read by her father. In my fantasy, the little girl lies still and calm, her golden hair in a soft tangle of curls on the pillow. She gazes at the book, quietly taking in every detail of the illustrations as her father reads the words, softly and clearly, emphasizing the nuances of the narrative but also lulling her with his gentle voice.

Surely, he is reading the ultimate bedtime story, Goodnight Moon. From years of experience, my brain automatically calls up the long-ago memorized verse, and the words ring out clearly in my head as I picture the scene.

Goodnight moon.
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon.
Goodnight light and the red balloon...

Goodnight stars, 
Goodnight air
Goodnight noises, everywhere.

And still within my mind's eye, I see the little girl's eyes flutter shut as her papa closes the book, lays it on her nightstand, and snaps off the light.  By the time he stands up and bends down to kiss her forehead one last time, she is breathing slow and deep, the sure sign of a child who has fallen fast asleep.

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As I trudged along through the soggy leaves and lengthening shadows, reality crashed into my misty fantasy and shattered it into a million pieces.

Let's get real.

I've tucked many a blonde toddler into bed, and I've read Goodnight Moon at least a thousand times. Oh sure, my daughters were all enraptured with the story of the striped bunny and his going-to-sleep rituals, and they laid still as mice as I read it to them.

But as I whispered the final dreamy verses of the story, never once did my darlings close their sleepy eyes and drift quietly off to the Land of Nod..

At our house, the last words snapped the children out of their story-induced trance and kicked them into high gear. Popping up in their beds, they responded to our story time with energy, enthusiasm, and a million ideas for what should happen next.

"Read it again!"
"Show me the page with the kittens."
"I need to go get some water."
"Where's my bunny?"
"Can we read one more bookie?"

This, I came to accept, is how real children listen to bedtime stories. Like every other part of their lives, they partake in the evening ritual with spunk, stamina and amazing creativity. The rosy-cheeked, pink-flannel-nightgown-wearing sleepy angels of my fantasies do not exist in reality - at least not in my reality.

And once I let that delusion go, I was happier, wiser and much more content to go with the crazy flow.

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Do they look sleepy to you?!

I'm thankful for my real-life children, who snapped me out of my dreamy illusions about parenthood, and taught me how to be a real-life mom.

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Read more about what I'm thankful for:

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