I have a lot of studying to do this weekend for a test on Monday, and my dear husband has been trying very hard to help me with this by keeping the kids cared for and occupied most of the day. Bedtime duty with both of them is almost impossible, but he tried his hardest and managed to get the baby down. He got the big sister to bed too, but she didn't fall asleep.
She needed a snack. He got her one. She couldn't sleep. She was still hungry. As I sat working on a practice test at the dining room table, she quietly appeared at my side and asked me for another snack. Sometimes these are bedtime stalling tactics and my intuition tells me the right thing is to hold the line, but tonight I could tell that she really was hungry (after having polished off a banana and a glass of milk in short order, she requested a tomato--and what parent can say no when their kid is asking for vegetables?!)
We went through a couple of snacks, and then she wanted me to tell her a story. I started feeling anxious about needing to get back to my studying, and getting irritated with her demands and the fact that she was still up. Then, suddenly, I realized that I needed to just stop and let go of my resistance to her and the situation. I hadn't spent a lot of time with her during the day, and she wanted to reconnect with me. She had some real needs, and trying to ignore them and hustle her into bed was just going to end up with both of us frustrated and unhappy.
I closed my book and shut my laptop and told her that I'd come tell her a story. As we started toward her room together, I remembered that tonight was the "supermoon" and I paused to pull back the curtain and peer out the window at the sky.
I could see that the night was bright but I couldn't see the moon itself. My daughter padded after me in her bare feet as I opened the front door and stepped onto the porch, craning my neck to see past the house. She asked what I was doing, and I told her that the moon was supposed to be very close and bright tonight, closer than it had been to the earth in eighteen years. Turning around, I looked at her, her five year old's body nearly lost in an oversized t-shirt.
"Go put on some pajama bottoms and shoes," I told her. "We're going outside." She went to her room immediately and reappeared wearing pajama bottoms and ballet slippers. I took her hand and we walked together down the porch steps and onto the front lawn.
We stood there for a while, gazing at the bright and beautiful full moon hanging above our roof. Her hand in mine felt small and soft. She said in wonder, "Oh, it's so beautiful, I just want to stay here forever and keep looking at it and never stop!" She shivered in the cool air, and I picked her up and hugged her to me and wrapped my robe around us both. She put her arms around me, and laid her head on my shoulder and melted into me like she used to do when she was tiny.
As we stood there together, I felt so glad that she hadn't gone to bed on time. She would have missed the chance to see this supermoon, and we would have missed this moment together. Eighteen years is a long time--in eighteen years from now she'll be twenty-three, a grown woman with a life of her own who won't need me for bedtime snacks and snuggles and stories.
The next supermoon is supposed to happen before that--but still, she won't be five, and this is a time in our lives together that will never come again. I know I'm going to miss it when it's gone. Sometimes I need to remember to slow down enough now to embrace every moment.