By Robin O’Bryant
At what age will it be creepy for my kids to wake up in the middle of the night to find me sitting on the edge of their beds staring at them? It’s part of my nightly routine, after walking through the house locking doors, flipping off lights and running the dishwasher, I tiptoe into my daughters’ bedrooms and stare at them.
Some nights I get all the way back to my bed before I realize I didn’t check on them. I hesitate before I lie down, thinking that skipping one night isn’t that big of a deal. Then, my crazy kicks in and I do a little math—only 10 years until Aubrey graduates, 12 years for Emma, 14 for Sadie—and before I know it I’m standing over their beds, rearranging their blankets, tucking their hair behind their ears, and kissing their smooth cheeks while they sleep.
I’ve told them that I do this, mostly as an extraction technique for exiting Sadie’s room. She wins the award for being able to draw out bedtime the longest and for the most creative excuses to get out of the bed.
“Momma, I bited myself on da knee and it huts weally bad. I meed a Band-Aid!” (Don’t you hate it when you accidentally bite your own knee?)
Still trying to be in charge she yells, “Momma, in four minutes come back in here and gib us six more kisses, okay?”
“Will do!” I shout as I slam the door behind me thinking that 14 years is a really, really long time.
After being out of town for several days recently, I’ve lingered even longer at bedtime, snuggling and talking with the girls. My husband had to be out of town for a whole week, so my mother, Shuggie, had spent the week with the kids and me. On Friday, I ran from place to place in the freezing cold counting down until 5 p.m. when Zeb would get back from his business trip, and we would all be home together. I cooked a huge pot of spaghetti, turned on the fireplace and put PJs on everybody as soon as we got home from school.
I got in the bed with Emma, my six-year-old, and together we relished the quiet of her room. I kissed her all over her little face and told her how precious she is to me.
“I love you so much. Do you know that? I’m so glad that God made you just the way He did and gave you to me! I think you’re so sweet and kind, and you’re SUCH a good helper. You always do what I ask you to and say yes ma’am. And you know what else I love about you?” I asked.
“You are so funny and silly! You make me laugh.” I kissed her forehead again and said goodnight, but didn’t move to get up.
“Momma,” Emma said, “Are you going to come back in here and kiss me later?”
“Yep. I always do. I kiss you while you sleep. I smooch all over your little face! Is that creepy?”
“Nah, I don’t think so.”
“When do you think that will be creepy? When you are 15, 16? In college?”
“I guess if you woke up in your dorm room and saw me standing over your bed that would be kind of creepy, huh?” I joked.
She giggled, “I guess so.”
“Do you think Shuggie still does that to me? Do you think she sneaks in my room to kiss me when I’m asleep?”
“I don’t know.”
“When you get big like me, if you need a hug and a kiss, I’ll drive to wherever you are just to give you one,” I promised.
She threw her arms around my neck and squeezed, “You are the best Momma in the whole world. And I bet Shuggie would do THAT for you. I know she loves you that much!”
“I think so too. But I won’t have very far to drive because you are going to live right next door, remember? And I’m going to babysit your babies.”
“That’ll be awesome! Then I won’t ever have to pay a babysitter!”
I snickered at her maternal instinct, “You can say that again.”
Sadie yelled from the other room, “Momma, my wegs are sword.”
I sighed, “Alright, let me go tend to her. I love you. Nighty-night.”
She rolled over in her bed, “Night. And Momma? Don’t forget to come back when I’m asleep, okay?”
“I won’t,” I said as I turned out the light and thought to myself that even with “sword legs,” self-inflicted bite marks, and sippy cups in huggers, that 14 years might not be long enough.