Life with small children is a life of repetition, rhythms, and rituals.
Like bedtime for Evie. It happens predictably every night. I can go through the motions of it with my eyes closed. But as she grows the tiniest bit each and every night as she sleeps, that bedtime ritual is evolving. I have to remind myself to keep my eyes open. Even in all of my busyness. Record the little details.
Evie, time to get your jammies on!
She can open the pajama drawer by herself now. Which jammies will she pick? Princess nightgown, Hello Kitty, or Tinkerbelle. She still needs help undressing. An arm or head gets stuck exiting her play clothes. I help her step into fresh Big Girl Panties. She puts her nightgown on by herself and doesn't want it buttoned in the back.
Okay, now go wash up...
I used to brush her teeth for her. I used to have to put the toothpaste on for her. But now, I don't have to help with any of it anymore. She can get her own washcloth out of the cupboard. Stand on her step-stool and wash her hands and face and brush her teeth. I listen from my room to make sure that I hear all the appropriate noises. Lengthy silences indicate dilly-dallying. Unexpected sounds indicate trouble. The other day I heard a splash-kerplunk and went running in to find she had accidentally slipped bottom-first into the potty.
Now go give Daddy night-night kisses...
I turn on the "twinkle lights". I set a fresh cup of water on her dresser. If it's not too late, I'll read her a story or two in the lamplight. She will negotiate for one more. I tuck her in. We make sure pink bunny is tucked in, too. We talk about a few things. Say thank you to Jesus for a few things. She asks me to stay and snuggle with her for a little while. And hold her hand and pat her back and sing the song I used to sing to her when she was a baby.
I always used to ask what she was gonna dream about. Now she doesn't wait for me to ask. The dream will vary occasionally to include Daddy and the Tummy-babies and perhaps flowers, marshmallows, chocolate, flying in airplanes, etc. But the stock answer goes like this:
"Mommy, I'm gonna dream about you and me sliding down a rainbow."
I hear that almost every night before my little girl goes to bed.
But, like I said, the rituals evolve. I recall that not too long ago she ALWAYS used to say and do so many other little things. Things that all of a sudden -- oh! -- she doesn't do that anymore. She used to ALWAYS adjust her door open to a particular angle to let the right amount of light in. She ALWAYS used to say, "If I need something, I'll come running out. Okay?" Oh! And remember when she ALWAYS used to ask me to make up a story about A Monkey and A Shark? It's been forever since I told a good Monkey and Shark story.
And so much more. But I'm forgetting. How can I forget these things we always used to do? Someday, I realize she'll forget that bit about the rainbow. The rainbow dream will fade away, as dreams do.
That's okay. Because I caught it.
Right here in words. I caught it.