For many parents of young children, the most feared and anticipated portion of each day has a name. It’s alive and we wait for it. You guessed it…Bedtime.
The complexity of bedtime lies in its duality of good and evil. The evil? Bedtime takes place at the end of an exhausting sequence of events that are likely to include driving, working (at home or in an office), errands, laundry, phone calls, bills, homework, meals, bathtime. We, I speak for all parents now, are TIRED. Maybe more tired than the kids. Worse yet, the kids are tired- and tired often means cranky (for both parties). To boot, it’s a transition period and transitions are always rough.
The good? There’s a preciousness to bedtime when the children are clean fresh out of a bath, teeth brushed, hair combed. They look so sweet when we give them that final kiss and exchange “good night” and “I love you” to one another. I was chatting with my girlfriend just before I put my kids to sleep the other night and she admitted that a tranq gun would be a helpful weapon at bedtime. (Agreed.) Children have this annoying tendency to be demanding – especially so at 6:45pm- but in those jammies?? Irresistible. The Parents’ Paradox. So there you have it- the scene that repeats itself day-in, day-out. Kids, around the world, are forced on a train heading towards Dream-Land, most children’s least favorite destination point.
One sobering video comes to mind when I think about bedtime that straightens me out quickly. An interview with Chava (Eva) Sandler, a woman who lost her husband and two sons to a horrific act of terror in Toulouse, France nearly two years ago.* The interview was conducted during her first week sitting shiva (mourning) and is incredibly powerful. In it she describes her last night before the attack:
“It’s funny, because when I went to sleep the night before the attack, I told my husband, “Oh no! Tonight was busy and I didn’t say Shema Yisrael (Jewish prayer) with my children (before bed).” Every night I would make sure to say Shema Yisrael with them. Even on Shabbat I would leave the guests behind in order to say Shema Yisrael with the children. That very night I said to my husband, “I wasn’t here on Shabbat because I was with my parents (in Paris). I didn’t say Shema Yisrael with the children since Wednesday, in fact.” And I said, “Okay, tomorrow I’ll get back into routine. This is important!” I see now that even when we are busy, we need to take time.”
The full interview is worth the 5.5 minute watch (link below) and sucker punches my (our?) crabby musings about bedtime in the gut. Bedtime is when we leave our final kisses and comments lingering in a bedroom for ten plus hours. It’s Important. Let’s (attempt to) wipe the exhaustion away from our eyes and savor the last beautiful moments of our little ones’ evenings with infinite gratitude.
*The interview was conducted in Hebrew with English subtitles. Full version can be found here: http://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/1816172/jewish/Tragedy-in-Toulouse.htm