The bedtime routine has always been crazy in our house. I think it has something to do with being naked. Once my kids' clothes come off, they are certified maniacs until after they've been cleaning and dressed in clean pajamas.
But once their hair is almost dry from jumping on the beds, when they're all warm and smelling sweet, I love harboring all three on my lap for books, Daddy's stories, songs and then prayer.
Hands-down. My favorite time of day.
After I put Megan down, I come back to the boys' room where Andy is finishing their bedtime story. Usually, it's a continuation of a series of Sinke' and his little monkey, having great adventures in the jungles of Africa. My boys live for these stories. And Daddy tells them best. Once he says his goodnights, I sit down between the boys and each of them lay their heads on my legs: Ben on my left and Jack on my right. We chat a bit about our day, go over the highlights and talk about plans for the next. Their thoughts at this time of night are especially precious.
I wait until they're nestled comfortably and then I stroke their hair as I sing. My boys find this especially soothing. They've always been hair-twirlers. They never sucked their thumb, had a pacifier, or had a special blankie to help them sleep. But they would twirl their hair. And that would help soothe them to sleep.
Our bedtime routine has changed slightly over the past few days and weeks as we've had to accommodate Ben's needs. Sometimes, this has meant just washcloth baths for him, just wash his hair, or we had to take special care to keep the mediport bandages dry. All of these have been met with surprising ease from our son.
Perhaps I've been the one to have the hardest time.
The first night I came home from the hospital to spend time with my other kids, it was difficult leaving Andy and Ben at the hospital. But the part of night I hated most was singing Jack to sleep. I only had one head on my right leg. One head of hair to stroke. And it was soft, not coarse like his brother's after the solution they put into it to protect him during the MRI. I could barely get through the songs without sobbing. After I left his room, I couldn't stop.
After Ben's brain surgery, it has taken extra care to be able to stroke his head without making his incision uncomfortable. I can feel the dissolvable sutures. The places where his skull was sewn back together. His hair has been coarse and I can still smell the orange cream they spread over the area to protect it from infection (while also matting the hair down during surgery.) But still, I stroke his hair as I sing. Lightly. Because it brings all of us comfort.
Well, tonight, for the first time in a few weeks, the bedtime routine felt more normal. Ben didn't beg us to wear his daytime clothes to bed because his arm was too sore from the mediport insertion to lift into the air. He took a bath with his siblings and when it was time to sing songs, I felt two soft heads of hair in between my fingers with very little trace of that hospital smell. It was beautiful. And for a moment, everything felt normal.
Andy and I are trying not to take more than one day at a time. That's when we start to get overwhelmed. We are determined to soak up individual moments, savor them, and tuck them into our memories as special and precious. Because none of us - none of us - are promised tomorrow.
And these moments I spend with my boys, in the quietness of the night, with two heads resting on my legs, will always be among my most treasured moments.