Sunday, November 18, 2012

Litany

Every kid gets a snuggle before sleep. Sometimes we'll tag-team, the lovely husband and I, and he'll snuggle and then I'll snuggle. Double snuggles. The order changes every night based on how many adults are home, who napped during the day and who didn't, who brushed teeth quickly and who threw toothbrushes in the toilet (ahem (Mister G)).

There's a thing I like to do with whomever I get as my last kid. I save it for just the right kind of night, when my snugglee is quiet and ready for sleep, not talkative or bouncy, not crying or overtired. Goldilocksian. Just right.

I whisper affirmations. I challenge myself to whisper in a constant murmur until s/he falls asleep.

I love your smile.
I love your generosity.
You played so nicely with your friends today.
I liked watching you share.
You ask such good questions.
You make me think.
I love your curiosity.
I love your laugh.
You're so smart.
You're so gentle.
You're so kind.

I don't know if they roll their eyes and think some small child version of "oh, mother." I like to think they fall asleep feeling positively about themselves. Standing tall while lying flat, if you will.

I had lunch with a friend on Friday (hi, friend) and she was speaking with candor about how she doesn't like to see herself in pictures. I was hearing her complaints about herself but in my mind I was thinking, "but I don't think of you like that. I think of you as a very beautiful woman." Somehow, though, through the flow of our conversation, I never got to say that aloud to her. I wish I had.

Sometimes E tells me I'm a beautiful mommy. Oh, Mama. You're such a beautiful mommy. It's not how I'd characterize myself. I think I'm cute. I have a twinkle in my eye. And I could sass you like nobody's business and make you laugh while I did it. (Emily recently called me 'effervescent.' I like that one.) But I wouldn't choose 'beautiful.' I say "thank you, love!" each time because to speak a spontaneous compliment is a kind of generosity we need more of, don't you think? And the more we hear good things about ourselves, the easier it becomes to believe those things.

So when I get a snuggle with a kid on the precipice of sleep, I whisper beautiful, wonderful truths to pave the way to dreamland. I draw them pictures of their very best selves. I chant their goodness in their ears, tattooing a beat of faith and promise and building them taller for the next day and the next and the next.

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