Monday, August 10, 2009

Whispers in the dark

It is after 9:30 pm. My children's bedtimes have come and gone. We went through our nightly routines of baths, clean up, family prayer, and brushing teeth. Everyone has been kissed, hugged, and tucked. This should be the time of day when Tim and I can have a little quiet time to ourselves. Yet, despite our consistent bedtime routine and our reminder that bedtime means, "we go to sleep!", we still hear little voices and little giggles from down the hall. I suppose this is one of those unavoidable consequences of having a big family.
You see, our children all share rooms. We literally have, on one side of the hall the boys room, with one set of bunk beds, and directly across from it on the other side of the hall, the girl's room, with another set of bunk beds. We have discovered over the years, that no matter what goes on during the day, whether our children spend their waking hours bickering with each other and annoyed at every tiny thing or playing nicely and getting along well, at bedtime everyone becomes best friends! As soon as the lights go out and the covers are pulled up the giggling seems to begin. The children will sit up and whisper and chit chat and play for hours if we let it go that on that long. It is not unusual for all the children to beg us, as bedtime approaches, to allow them all to sleep together in one or the other of the bedrooms. A family slumber party is the greatest treat! When this is not granted them, and it usually isn't because like all great slumber parties there is very little slumbering going on, we often find the girls laying on the floor of their room by the open doorway and the boys, likewise, at their doorway whispering across the hall and goofing off together when they should all be sleeping soundly in their beds. There are just as many nights when from their beds, which consequently face the doorways and therefore each other, they talk and goof off despite about 40 feet of space between them.
I would never tell my children this, but often this is my favorite part of the day. Now, the fact that I enjoy the children's bedtime would come as no surprise to them. They can tell that by the time the sun goes down and the prayers have been offered I am ready to bid them all good night and have some time with Tim. They know I am often out of patience by bedtime and anxious to tuck them all safely and snugly in their beds for the night. What they might never suspect is that, it is not so much bedtime that makes me love this twilight time so much, but the fact that my house is filled with their quiet but joyful laughter and little voices wafting down the hall. I love that they enjoy the time with each other and have that special bond with their siblings. I love that at night they share their secrets, their silly games, and their ideas and fears with each other. This time, I believe, will cement the sibling relationships I try so hard to encourage during the day. I have faith that though they should be sleeping they are doing something just as, if not infinitely more, worthwhile instead. They are strengthening our family by taking the time to be together without distractions or expectations. Thankfully, sleep is not even compromised because, as home schoolers, they can sleep in the next morning and not have to get up early to rush off anywhere.
After bedtime, when I have the perspective and peace of not being surrounded by commotion and chaos, I can most appreciate my children's silliness, delight, and enthusiasm for life and for each other. Instead of being overwhelmed by the activity and noise of their play, I can stand back, and from a distance, observe the simple moments of life that bring such incredible joy to them, and revel in the joy it also brings to me. So, while I would love to have a bit of quiet in my life, right now I am going to go and enjoy the beautiful sound of my children's banter- the quiet will come soon enough when they've all grown and moved on....

1 comment:

  1. OK, Kari, you're making me want to have more little ones so we can have this! As it is, David thinks Kev or I are his nighttime companions. We've tried to encourage him to snuggle with Emily, but she's way too into her beauty sleep to tolerate it. So maybe another sib would do the trick?? Or maybe he'll always try to be our snuggle bear?? :)



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