Bedtime in the Bell home is always an event. Typically Taylor and I divide and conquer, one handling Annie’s routine – potty, brush teeth, book, prayer and one verse of “Jesus Loves Me” – and the other Ollie’s – milk, rock for two-ish minutes, and place in crib with his three pacis. I treasure bedtime, when they’re both clean, snuggly and in their precious little pajamas, but let’s be real – I also treasure when all I hear are their sound machines. Silence for the first time all day. Once they’re in bed for the night it’s my time to shower! To snack! To watch a movie that isn’t animated! To talk to my husband without being interrupted!
So imagine my annoyance when the other night, after we put both Annie and Ollie down successfully and I was just getting cozy on the couch with some dark chocolate, I hear her. Annie was knocking on her door saying “Maaaamaaaa, excuse me, I need you” in a loud-whisper. I sighed a big one and went to her.
Me: Yes, Annie what do you need?
Annie: I just wanted one more hug.
Me: Honey I’ve hugged you all day and it’s late, let’s get in bed.
Annie: One more hug, Mommy please!
I gave her a big hug, placed her back in her bed and told her to go to sleep.
Two minutes later and I hear her again, saying the same “Maaaaaamaaaa, excuse me, I need you.”
By this point I was over it. It had already been a day, with lots of time-out sessions peppered with a couple spankings. I was exhausted from her extra level of sass all day and annoyed that even after I had let her stay up past her bedtime – see? I’m a cool mom! – she was now not wanting to go to sleep. I waited another couple minutes to see if she would give up, but once she started singing my name to the tune of “Let It Go” I knew she wouldn’t give up anytime soon. I opened her door with a big sigh and generally feeling like she was out to get me and out to ruin my night.
Me: Annie, we’re not doing this. Go to sleep.
Annie: Mommy, just one more hug. That’s all I need, one more hug!
I sat on her bed and gave her a hug, annoyance written all over my face, and then I pulled the covers back up to her little chin. In my rush I hadn’t even looked at her sweet little face, but when I did something in me turned to mush as it has a million times since she was born.
Annie: Mommy, I just wanted one more hug. I just love you so much.
Looking at her baby face smiling up at me as she tucked in her mermaid doll next to her my perspective shifted. God spoke to me in that moment and reminded me of the weight and gift and beauty of motherhood. He reminded me the importance of showing grace, not just for my daughter but for myself. He reminded me of my important role in my daughter’s life and how fleeting this season of her littleness is. He reminded me to slow down and soak it in.
My three-year-old wasn’t out to get me – she needed one more hug from her Mommy before she could go to sleep.
She wasn’t intentionally trying to keep me from having some time “off the clock” – she simply needed me.
She wasn’t mad at me from the multiple time-outs I had put her in that day – she loved me.
I hugged her again and thanked God for this moment, for giving us a moment to reconnect before the day ended. One more chance to love on each other and close the day on a high note. One more time to get it right.
Motherhood is hard work, but more importantly, it’s holy work. We love because God first loved us, and while I won’t even come close to getting it right every day with my babies, I will make sure they know they are loved wildly and unconditionally. Even when they don’t want to go to bed right away and especially, when they want one more hug.