May 22, 2016

The Finish Line: A Single Mom’s Frantic Journey to Bedtime.

parent kid happy cuddle bed

After a long and hectic day, I find myself rushing around the house, cleaning up the mess from my children, finishing the last of the dirty dishes, feverishly signing all of the homework assignments and permission slips and writing out yet another check for the kids’ school.

I am overly mindful of the time and am counting down the minutes until I can finally bid my children farewell and off to bed they go.

I am lost in my head, checking off items on my to-do list.

Go over homework: check.

Made them a kinda, sorta healthy dinner: check.

Discussed their day at school: check.

Counted how many lunch snacks are left, praying there is enough for tomorrow: check.

Remind myself to call for a Math tutor: check.

Criticize myself for not calling the Math tutor sooner: check.

Fret over how I will pay for the Math tutor: checkity, check, check, check!

I am barking orders like a drill sergeant, “Take a shower!” Brush your teeth!” “Leave the dog alone!” “Do you have clean underwear for tomorrow?” “Did you even use soap?”

I can finally can see the finish line, like a track star rounding the bend, running my hardest, faster and faster using all of that saved up energy from the first lap around the track. The crowd is cheering me on but all I can hear is the pounding of my heart, the rhythmic sounds of my breathing and my feet hitting the gravel with each stride.

It’s bedtime.

We march up the stairs single file, and a little smile starts to appear on my face. I can see the finish line.

My daughter goes to her room and puts her babies to bed while I tuck in my son. Although he is 10 now, asks for “the song.” I sit on the side of his bed and sing Edelweiss, his lullaby from when he was a baby and a family favorite. I turn on his sound machine (he asked for it for his birthday—what 10-year-old asks for a sound machine?), I smile and set it on “campfire,” turn the light off and kiss him goodnight.

Next, my more difficult task, putting my daughter to bed. She sits on the edge of her bed and is singing her babies to sleep. She pushes them in my face and demands I kiss them too. So, I do. Anything, at this point, to get to that finish line.

We turn her music on, turn off the light and sit quietly while I rub her back. She starts to disclose a fight she had with her friend at school and articulates her feelings like a 30-year-old.

In the back of my head I catch myself wishing she would just go to bed.

We process this incident and she finally finds her comfortable spot on her bed and is quiet. I sit with her for several minutes and she begins to tell me how much she loves me. I tell her I love her too and I am so lucky to be her mommy. She tells me goodnight and to “leave the door open!”

Good night, sweet angels.

I finally crossed the ever-lovin’ finish line. I can almost hear the sound of the stop watch click. I did it again. Another night and another race completed. I give myself a quiet high-five.

But, it was just then that I realized, life’s not about the finish line—it’s all about the race.

Those precious moments where my son and I connect in such a lovely and familiar way and those intense and powerful discussions I’ve had with my daughter, at a time in the day where she feels totally safe to let me in, I hold ever so lightly, tenderly in my hands as to never forget this sweet journey toward the finish line.

What would all my days be like if I raced to the finish line with only the intention to win? How could I ignore the gems of my life when all I focus on is the end result?

I love when my son insists on the five-kiss ritual where we kiss each other in different styles such as the Eskimo kiss (rubbing our noses together), the animal kiss (rubbing our cheeks together), the Serbian kiss (which is four fast pecks on the cheek, one on the left, one on the right and one on the left and right cheek again). There is the forehead, nose, lips kiss and then finally, the old-school peck on the lips.

If I was only worried and preoccupied with finish line, I would miss out on this wonderful ritual and the growth of our deeper connections to one another.

I started to remind myself that I will, in fact, miss out on a lot unless I changed my focus and considered bedtime as a gift instead of yet another hurtle I have to jump.

I go downstairs, make sure the doors are locked and all the lights are off and go back up to my room. I see my bed and wonder if it is possible to be in love with your bed?

With the sweet smell of success, a good book, my children healthy and happily asleep and the dog curled up next to me, I am in heaven.

I open up my book, read three sentences and I am out like a light.


“Edelweiss… Edelweiss…

Every morning you greet me

Small and white, clean and bright

You look happy to meet me

Blossom of snow

May you bloom and grow

Bloom and grow forever…” ~ The Sound of Music


Author: Corinne Milentijevic

Image: Matteo Bagnoli/Flickr 

Editor: Emily Bartran


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