More and more I am coming to truly appreciate the daily routine Littleman and I have developed for ourselves, especially bedtime. I love at the end of the day, the winding down of all our inner cogs and gears, how things get quiet. Our bellies are full of dinner. Our minds are full of the events from the day. Our hearts are full of warm, cozy fuzzies. This is the exact moment our bedtime routine begins.
First I run a shallow bath of warm water. Then I tug baby boy out of his soiled clothes and soggy diaper. He pats his hand excitedly on the edge of the tub and I finally lift him in. He splashes and I scrub. I wash away the food crusties on his face and wipe away the smudges of dirt on his hands. He chases the rubber duck. He sifts his fingers through the running water.
Once baby is clean I swaddle him up in a fluffy towel and we go into his room. I secure a fresh diaper and hurry to slip him in to fleece pajamas before he wriggles from my reach. Then we have one last bout of quiet playtime. I put his toys away while he drags his Peter Rabbit around the room.
After all the items of his nursery are neatly stashed I scoop him up and head for the rocking chair. We read two or three books, always ending with the same story. By this point his head is lolling a bit and his eyelids are heavy. I nurse him one last time, kiss him goodnight, and lay him in the crib.
Then I can't help but lean down for one more kiss pressed to his precious cheek. All the struggles and frustrations from the day are sorted out of my thoughts. All my loneliness and exhaustion is packed tightly away in a small, little drawer. All the bitter moments are polished clean. All that I have left at the end of every day is this sweet, blessing of a baby boy and a heart warm, brimming with gratitude.
J.M. Barrie perhaps puts it best in Peter Pan:
"Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children's minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on."