I’ll see you in the morning

Bedtime is parenthood distilled.  Those minutes in dusky bedrooms contain the essence of all that is conflicted and painful and extraordinarily beautiful about this season of my life.  Grace and Whit are often at their softest, their most thoughtful, loving, and receptive, as they say their prayers and talk quietly to me and give and receive kisses and roll over, beloved animals clutched against their chests.  I am aware to the point of pain of how sweet and fleeting these moments at my childrens’ bedsides are, with the lullabyes they still listen to wafting through the air and their eyes shining in the dim nightlight-lit darkness.

But the truth is I am also often tired myself, and wanting to get to my short window of time alone before I go to bed myself.  Sometimes I feel impatience surging in my chest, and I try to tamp it down, remembering how precious these minutes are, reminding myself to look closely at my children, to listen, to brush kisses on their foreheads, to breathe in their shampoo-fresh hair and still-young-child smell.

Always, I whisper, as I go, “I’ll see you in the morning.”  And always they smile faintly at me, already drifting into sleep.  And I close the door quietly behind me and stand outside their door, invariably, every night, for a moment, feeling gratitude wash over me, often with a thread of guilt running through it: why was I impatient with so precious a moment?

It occurred to me recently that that sentence right there – I’ll see you in the morning – is the mother-child bond incarnate.  Isn’t it?  They are the words I utter as I exercise the enormous, ineffable privilege of being the last person two children speak to before they go to bed.  They are words which vow that I’ll be there in the morning, and words that promise another day.  No matter what emotions the day has brought, no matter what fireworks or tears dinner or bath (“bed, bath, and beyond,” as I’ve long said) contained, bedtime is always peaceful at our house.  The moments when I sit on the edge of Grace or Whit’s bed, leaning over them, listening and murmuring, these are some of my very, very favorite moments of being a mother.

Something like holiness – or grace – floats in the room, not always, but often, and I try to breathe it in.  I’ll see you in the morning.  While I can still say that, I will, with all my heart in every word.

For an exquisite piece about the power of bedtime, please read Can I Have Your Hand by one of my favorite writers, Amanda Magee.


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22 Comments

  1. Posted January 7, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Lovely and oh so reassuring.

    There will come another day, another chance at getting it right, another opportunity to share those moments that resonate in the heart.

    You are a great mama.

  2. Posted January 7, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    I felt that grace last night after the kids went to sleep. We had a really difficult day all around, and I felt that disappointment in myself creep up and then only by grace did it sweep away and give me some peace to start fresh with sleep and wake and smiles and hugs.
    (also, the other day I meant to write that the song Home makes me cry every. single. time. I love it)

  3. Posted January 7, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I never thought about that sentence, “I’ll see you in the morning,” that way before. It is such a privilege to be able to say that and to have it be true.
    I always had a short song that I made up when pregnant with each child and I sang them that song at night before bed. Obviously, I no longer sing to the teenagers, but my ten year old still wants her song every night. I know my singing days are numbered and I’m trying to remind myself to enjoy every last note.

  4. Posted January 7, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    This is beautiful. I have just been thinking about how often I’ve been anxious to escape to me time at bedtime these days and how I need to slow down and take some deep breaths. A few extra minutes of slow, focused, attentive, conscious parenting isn’t going to make a difference in how many pages of the novel on my bedside I get to read. But it will make a difference in how I feel about my day and how my children feel about their lives. Thank you so much for this reminder. And P.S. when I was growing up our family always said “good-night-i-love-you-i’ll-see-you-in-the-morning” like it was all one word. Another great reminder. THANK YOU!

  5. Posted January 7, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    It’s really funny that you mention this, because over our vacation I ended up being hospitalized for a night after Abra went to bed. I always tell her “I’ll see you in the morning,” too. Instead, my aunt and uncle, who she doesn’t know well, were there to tend to her when she got up, and while she did beautifully with them until I arrived home later that day, bedtimes since have been clingy and fraught. No doubt I shattered, at least for now, some basic sense of trust that’ll have to be “earned” back.

  6. Susan
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Oh my…this is the sort of post that can bring me to my knees at 9 in the morning. I work really hard to cherish each moment with these two teenage boys of mine, but time seems to be passing at warp speed. I have recently taken to making sure I kiss them goodnight, even though I’m the one that’s headed to bed (at 10pm) while they stay up a bit longer!

  7. Amy VanEchaute
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Oh, Lindsey – how absolutely e x q u i s i t e. Purest poetry… Thank you for sharing this.

  8. Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Oh, this was lovely! You’re right about the impatience creeping in sometimes…all too familiar for me.

    I never really thought about how reassuring “I’ll see you in the morning” must be for a child…

  9. Posted January 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    God yes–the simultaneous pull to appreciate and pull to move onto the next. I’ve often felt the same at bedtime–a shimmery moment, with hazy edges that I always want to remember. And then that desire to do for myself.

    You teased out one of the essences of motherhood and distilled it beautifully. xo

  10. Posted January 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    When I first became aware that, perhaps, I could no longer be married to my children’s father, it was at bedtime that the possibility seemed so preposterous. It was the idea of not being there for every bedtime that I could hardly stand to carry in my head. I see now that it was the idea that I would not see them every morning, as much as tuck them in every night, that was so painful.

    I have lived through it. Other things were gained. But the loss of every bedtime was painful. Still is. My boy with the husky voice and hairy legs still wants me to come in to say good-night when he is with me. I miss him when he is not. I remember the years I, too, often wished for the ritual to go a little quicker, so that I could get to those few and fleeting moments of the day that belonged only to me. I knew–I knew–that I would miss those times when they were gone, even as I many nights longed for release. Yes, a conflicted, painful and extraordinarily beautiful season of life.

  11. Posted January 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I wandered over here from twitter. This was beautiful and honest and so true. These precious times go so fast. My babies are now 19 and 22 and there are still “a few” tuck in moments and I love them still. They become even more precious. Now I tuck in myself and my husband and that’s fun too. Just a different stage of life.

  12. Posted January 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Achingly beautiful. I love this, resonate with each word. Such a grace, even when it comes at the end of such a muddled mess of a day. Pure poetry.

  13. Posted January 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    My mother used to say “see you in the big, fat, juicy morning” every night to us as she left our rooms. I then used those same words years later as I tucked my three sons in. They are all grown up now, but we all still say this to each other when they come for overnight visits.

  14. KathyS
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t tuck in as often anymore since my girls are much older but I feel similar about telling them – “you know where I am if you need me” when I go to bed before they do now!

  15. Posted January 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely, heartfelt post. I feel the same about bedtime…my kids are teens, yet I still cherish those times when we snuggle up and just be. I feel a similar way about waking them up – the softest moment to kiss their cheek and bring them into the day makes he happy.

  16. Posted January 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Oh I love this!!!

    And there is such truth in what you have said. And the reminder to just stay present and enjoy the moment.

    I know this is something I am guilty of. By the end of the day I am tired and ready for some “me time”. And at bed time is often when I feel at my most frustrated and short-tempered.

    I’m trying to turn this around though.

    I’ve developed a new pattern where I sit with my little boy, and we discuss all the things we are grateful for that day. It’s turned into a truly beautiful practice 🙂

    And I always end with “Good night sweetheart. I love you. Sleep well”.

  17. Posted January 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Loved this! Your beautiful and truthful writing captured this most special time of day perfectly.

  18. adover
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of a piece by Amanda Magee, Can I Have Your Hand? Give credit where credit is due.

    admin Reply:

    I love Amanda’s work, have linked to her multiple times and she inspires me all the time. I wrote this before I read her piece about bedtime that went on Huffington Post, however, and I’ve written extensively about bedtime in the last many years. I did think of Amanda’s piece when I published this, mostly because I don’t think I come anywhere near capturing the beauty of bedtime that she does.

  19. Posted January 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I think the fact that two amazing writers who are also mothers like Amanda and Lindsey have both written about the push-pull of bedtime and the internal struggles that occur in our hearts while we say goodnight to our children every night only speaks to the fact that it is such a universal experience. Every mom I know has had that guilty feeling of not enjoying that tender moment right before her child ends his or her day. We could probably all write on this theme, but I can hear each mother’s voice tell her own story.

  20. Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Bedtime feels like a window, sometimes I slip into the past, other times it catapults me ahead. I take particular solace in narratives that other working moms share about bedtime, not because I think they are any more meaningful or challenging, but because I feel a part of a community. Sisterhood? Tribe? I don’t think a word really exists for it, but as blogging has done for me since my first days, I find echoes and answers. It heals me and it challenges me. The times when our stories move through the days side by side, I think, are a confirmation that we really are sharing a journey.

    Starting in a few weeks I am going to be writing, along with Lindsey, on a series that allows us to thread together many of our stories. I am so excited and am linking to it here. http://amandamagee.com/2013/01/this-is-childhood/

  21. Posted January 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Breathtaking, Lindsey. Truly.

  22. sohee
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    this post is brutally honest that it really rings the deepest chords of my heart. i too am guilty of rushing such divine hour and i too am guilty of pushing my agenda and priorities over such precious little moments. thank you for your post and thank you thank you thank you for reminding me again and again that all the little moments with our little ones are so fleeting and so short like the mist.