Bedtime was a long time coming. Cranky kids and their cranky mom, plumb wore out from Vacation Bible School this week, and it's only Wednesday? But there's church tonight, and a disobedient 5-year-old to deal with afterward, and the toothpaste gets squeezed too hard but no one knows by whom. And suddenly all the kids need to go Big Potty very urgently. It's at bedtime, always at bedtime.
They are tucked in (though they never, ever lie still), and we recite Psalm 23 together. Well, mommy says it and they mumble through it, trying to guess what's next and shouting the few phrases they've learned so far. I do hate it when they mumble, though they are just trying to please me. Even as the fingers of fatigue tighten around my brain, I resist the urge to rush through the bedtime routine. For some reason, tonight there is an extra measure or two of grace, and I can feel it. They are yawning and droopy-eyed, but they're restless, asking questions. Stalling, I know, but they just want me near them.
Finally, I pray... a little longer tonight, a little more grown-up-style tonight, and they listen so quietly. I make the kiss-and-hug rounds, silently congratulating myself. A tiring evening after a string of tiring days, and I pulled it off! A sweet, successful bedtime without any trace of the Grouchies!
Ellia is fighting tears.
Her eyes are so heavy. I know she must be exhausted; she tossed and flopped and would not nap today. But Ellia.... my Ellia rarely fights tears. She beckons them, forces them, fakes them. When she is fighting tears, that's when we know they are real.
A little more, God. Just a little more grace...
With a little probing, the tears flow freely, from both of my older two. They are missing their beloved dog--gone since the Fourth of July. A week ago today.
It's funny the things you have to explain to a child. Things you don't remember anyone actually teaching you, but someone had to have done so. We've worked through some of these recently: How To Wipe Yourself On The Potty. Using A Butter Knife. All About The Handicapped. The Difference Between Being Excited About Your Accomplishment And Having Pride In Your Heart. But Grieving Your Pet's Death? That's a hard one to teach a 4- and 5-year-old. But I have to. We talk about some fun and funny memories of their faithful, patient dog. They laugh through their tears when I tell them that at some point, they all tried to ride him and pick his nose. The tears return when they're told that it's okay to cry when you miss someone. It's good, even. Crying is one way to help our hearts feel better when they're hurting, and God made us that way after all, so it must be a good thing?
I always want them to be able to come to me when they are hurting.
Only if I'm a grace-filled mommy who ignores the ticking clock sometimes to smooth back their frizzy curls and pull up their blankets a little tighter and ask (or answer) one more question.