Every night before bed, I ask my son the same question:
“Who would you like to read to you tonight, Mom or Dad?”
I say this is my way of giving him a choice in his controlled little world, but really it is my way of crossing my fingers in hopes he asks for my husband to read to him. Moms, you get it: A few quiet moments alone is my sanity saver. But, without fail, he always chooses me.
“Mom, you do it the best. I don’t like the way Daddy does it!”
Honestly, I ADORE reading stories with my son. I am a book worm myself, and getting lost in a good story is almost as good as going on vacation.
…I said almost.
He doesn’t choose me because of the silly voice I do for each new character, or because I take forty minutes to read three small children’s books (ridiculous, right?). It is the simple fact that each night, we don’t rush. We don’t argue. We don’t have any chores to do or things to accomplish. It is just the two of us cuddled in the warm blankets- the perfect way to end the day. Our time together is sacred, a “band-aid” of sorts for the hurts we inflicted on each other throughout the day. All time-outs are forgotten, all harshly spoken words brushed aside. It’s nothing but books and our imaginations to fill the time.
But it hasn’t always been this way. Often times I would rush through the ritual-
“Come on! You need to get IN the bed, not just jump on it!”
“No, you may not get another drink. You will not die of thirst in the middle of the night.”
“Mommy is tired of being ‘on the clock’ and wants a break!”
Nothing speaks love to a child more than telling them they are your “job” and you’d like some time-off, right? I hated the way it made me feel, as if watching television or reading my own book was more valuable to me than my nightly ritual with him. God began to convict my heart, telling me to slow down and stop watching the clock. He wanted me to relish the moments I had with my son, taking time to really listen and connect. Oh, and one more thing…
Once I was faithful to my role as a mother, God called me to be faithful to my time with Him.
I should have seen that one coming. I had been rushing my moments in reading the Bible and praying. I run a tight ship at home and there are only so many free minutes in the day! I know you feel that same pressure I do to be “everything” to everyone- God had his nice little time slot right next to “nap-time” and “loading the dishwasher.” I was treating God as if he was another part of my responsibility as a mom, not the Lord of my life that He truly was. I hated the way it made me feel and I knew I needed to change.
So I stopped watching the clock and began to lose myself in my conversations with God. I asked questions, listened for answers, and learned to not rush to the next thing. Each day gets a little easier, letting go and allowing my heart to experience the healing from God that I need- a “band aid” of sorts for all the times I misstep and am not obedient.
I need my bedtime stories with God just as much as my son needs them with me.
It is my prayer you begin to read bedtime stories with God again, the way you did as a child, resting in the one-on-one time, with all hope, anticipation, and expectation of the happy ending!
What is your favorite bedtime ritual with your kids?