Bedtime For Bonzos

We turn out the main light and flip on the closet light, signaling the start of our bedtime routine. Then, I tell two stories– one must feature bubble gum and one must be a super-special extra surprise story that she has never heard ever in her whole life.

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I do my best to make up enchanting bubble gum tales and then I fumble around piecing together a story that has an original, age-appropriate narrative arc. I avoid Disneyesque themes and steer clear of a physical description of my heroine other than to say she is brave, kind-hearted, strong, and hilarious.

I like to play with my daughter’s curls as they fan out over her pillow.  If she’s wide awake, she’ll bat my hand away.  “No, Mama,” in the tone that suggest that her teenage years will drive me to lots of extra therapy.  If she is spent from a day of planning her birthday party or listing her favorite colors, she’ll let me twist the curly ends around my finger as I sing her a song.

Her latest request is that I sing her songs that, like the stories I tell, she’s never heard.  I’ve run through every church song, the Willie Nelson canon (which took weeks), and the soundtracks of Grease, Sound of Music and Wizard of Oz.  I’ve taken to making up songs which sound like really bad junior high poetry set to the tune of a tone-deaf beginning grammar school band, which is all awful, but they seem to lull her to sleep.

When her blinks lengthen into closed eyes, I move into my spoken word segment.  It’s my favorite part, and it always makes me cry.

I’m grateful you are my daughter.  I’m so blessed to be your Mama.

Sometimes she stirs, and I fall silent.

You did a great job being you today.  Everything you did today counts.  You’re loved beyond your own comprehension.  You are going to outgrow this world and create new ones. 

You are full of color and life and gratitude.

You have gifts to share with this world. 

She may remember this one day and think I was talking to her.  And I am.  But I am also talking to myself, hoping we can learn together.


37 thoughts on “Bedtime For Bonzos

    • There is some growing up I am doing right alongside here. But I have a therapy fund for her so if it all backfires, we’ll get her lots of help and expensive friends.

  1. Beautifully written, and a very on-point description of the relationship between toddler daughters and the moms who love them.

  2. . . . and now I’m crying. Your bedtime routine with Miss Sadie Pickles leaves me utterly speechless and with goosebumps. So utterly beautiful, creative, funny and Maya Angelou like. I love you. What a great mama you are!!!

  3. Well, that was incredibly inspired and beautiful for a week where I just want to hide under the bed. By sharing that you made us almost as lucky as Sadie. Thank you.

  4. This made me all teary. Growing up in a house full of sisters, there is nothing I know better than mothers and daughters, and this made me think of our bedtime routine when we were growing up, that my sister has now continued with her daughter and that I will hopefully continue with mine one day.

  5. Lovely, truly lovely. I love the image of you playing with her curls and telling her all these true and wonderful things that her soul will remember forever. What a loving mama you are! And I adore this post!

    • It’s sublime. I never knew I would look FORWARD to the time at the end of the day…a perfect send off into the night.

      On Wed, May 29, 2013 at 11:44 AM, Outlaw Mama

    • It’s kind what I’m thinking and why it makes me cry. I wish someone had given that to my parents and that they could give it to me everyday, straight to my veins.

      • Wow. This one got me in a really deep place…somewhere near the essence of my mothering insecurities. I think I’m crying because I never considered the spoken words…sure I can agree with all of them, and love your ritual, but SAY it? Out loud? Me? I’m not sure I could achieve such a deep level of intimacy.

      • I started by thinking, “damn, our bedtime ritual isn’t enough.” But I remembered that this isn’t about comparing. I give what I can, which is almost-patient for 14 hours then books, songs, big hugs, sweet goodnight kisses, and a mad dash away from their room.

        That’ll do, Pig. 😉

  6. Thanks for making me cry at work. Gahhhhd. That’s such a beautiful message for her to hear every day, and for you, too. I wonder what the world would be like if we all said that to ourselves every day. I’m starting tonight. Thanks for this amazing post.

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