It wasn’t until late last night that I realized my mistake. When you sat up in your crib and cried, I sent your dad back in to your room so that I could get Mia to bed. This means that we read a book, say prayers and listen to music as I lay with her while she drifts off to sleep. This is how it’s always been.
In the great green room
there was a telephone
and a red balloon…
I’m sorry that you and Luke get cheated out of a bedtime routine as intimate as your sister’s.
and a picture of
the cow jumping over the moon…
I’m sorry that our evenings are so chaotic that by the time I think about reading a book you’re both arching your backs in our arms, yearning for the familiar landing of your beds.
And three little bears sitting on chairs
And two little kittens and a pair of mittens…
I’m sorry that the two of you haven’t yet figured out that you’re not the other’s enemy when it comes to my time or my affection or my arms or my lap.
And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush and a quiet old lady who was whispering hush…
Someday you will learn that I have room for you both — that I will make room for you both — but for now the constant friction between you (at least in matters where I’m concerned) makes it difficult to do anything intimate or quiet or routine-like in any way.
Good night cow jumping over the moon.
Perhaps you’ve caught on before Luke, or perhaps Luke just doesn’t care, but about a week ago you figured out that life goes on outside your slumbering room. And so you cried and you didn’t stop until I slipped back in and we read Goodnight Moon by flashlight, Luke’s rhythmic breathing providing a soundtrack in the background.
Good night stars.
Usually a whir of energy and light in all your toddler glory, you were still and quiet, fingering the corner of a blanket as I read.
Good night air.
And then I closed the book, turned off the flashlight and laid you back down. I slipped back out of your room, and the next time I heard your voice it was morning.
Good night noises everywhere.
And so a routine began. You always cry now and I picture you waiting for me, for your story, for your last whispered words before sleep sets in. This is all you want from me. And yet, last night I forgot.
Looking back, your cries were harder and more wrought with frustration than usual, even when your dad went in to try to comfort you. You waited for me, wanted me, watched for me and eventually, you fell asleep.
It was later, after your sister and I had long since completed our bedtime routine and your dad and I watched the Oscars and turned off the TV, that I realized my mistake. I don’t know how I forgot but I did. And so I tiptoed into your room and whispered,