As my son Henry does not talk yet (being 10 months old), he and I have yet to form our nighttime ritual.
With my daughter, nearly 3, we have a pattern.
Stories in bed. At least 2. Sometimes as many as 5. Or more. However many she can wheedle out of me. Then I turn up her sound soother machine (Baby Einstein) and set it to the Dvorak melody. If she lets me, I sing to her. I ad-lib new words each time, usually it’s some variation of “Margot girl, Margot girl” on repeat to that 12-bar melody.
I tell her, “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. I’ll see you in the morning light. You live in my heart, Margot Girl.”
She tells me, “You live in my heart, Mommy Girl.”
I back away slowly, edging out her room. And she reminds me not to turn off the lights. I wonder how long this ritual will last. How long before her chubby-cheek caresses are a distant memory, replaced by surliness and skulking. I wonder how long it will be before my flaws materialize in this tiny creature, erupting in a crashing flow. How can I can help her overcome them when I have yet to overcome myself?
But for now, it seems like we both still have time.
And this evening, here’s the truest sentence I know: I want to remember these few moments of perfect bliss.