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  • Kathryn R. Biel


I have a confession to make. It's going to make me seem like a horrible person. Ok, here it is...I hate putting my kids to bed every night.

There, I said it.

I know most parents cherish these precious moments, snuggling, reviewing the day, exchanging "I love yous" and saying prayers. All that stuff, I like.

But that's not what bedtime really is. It is the kids getting wound up just as I say that it's time for bed (which is at 8 pm every night, and should come as no surprise).  It is trying to lie down with 2 kids in 2 separate rooms at the same time. It is having to tell my daughter over and over that she needs to quiet down. That she can't get up for another drink. That whatever she has to tell me can wait for the morning. Listening to her yelling over and over, louder and louder through the monitor, "Is it midnight yet?" Bedtime is a battle, a power struggle. It often takes Sophia over an hour to finally go to sleep. Sleep she desperately needs so she is not miserable the next day.

In my mind, I need to make it until 8 pm and then I am done for the day. It is a struggle to make it that long. I am just wiped out. I'm often in my pj's before the kids are. So, once 8 pm hits, I want to tuck them in and be done. But, it is never just that. I often lose my patience, and end up being stern, which is not the way I want to send Sophia off for the night. I don't want to lay down with her. Frankly, for her, it is a stall tactic. She wants to re-hash the day (which is nice), but it is clearly in an attempt to make you forget that she is supposed to be going to sleep.

Some nights, Jake just marches down the hall and goes to bed on his own. This makes me feel even worse than not enjoying bedtime. Sometimes Jake wants to snuggle too. More often than not, he just needs a few deep squeezes and is ready to go to sleep after about 30 seconds. I think he is making up for the years of horrible sleeping when he was a baby/toddler and the night terrors as a preschooler. He owes us.

So, tonight, is not unlike almost every other night in our house. I am wiped out, still having to face one more day of work this week. Sophia had dance, Jake had a math fair at school. Pat and I are like ships passing in the night. We watched tv, and then I read to the kids for 15 minutes, letting them go to bed a few minutes late. Still had to raise my voice to get them to actually leave my room to go to sleep. Tucked Jake in, squished and hugged him while Sophia was in the bathroom. Reminded her to get her drinks, that she was NOT getting up.  

And then she said it,  "Can you stay with me?"

And, I really didn't want to. I wanted to depressurize, play a few games on Facebook, read for a few minutes and go to sleep. But then, I thought about another family, and another little blond girl. There is a local family who received the terrible news that their 5 year old, Maddie, had an inoperable brain tumor and had 4-6 months to live. She received her diagnosis on February 3, 2012. Her parents, instead of falling apart, mobilized into action.  They had beautiful family photos done. They had a family gathering.  Maddie made her first communion and was confirmed on Sunday. They traveled to Lake Placid to see even more family. This morning, 6 days after receiving her diagnosis, just 6 days, Maddie died.  

If her mother had spent the weekend crying, they would not have those beautiful memories, those beautiful photos. Six weeks ago was Christmas.  This family never could have imagined that it would be their little girl's last Christmas. That she would not make it to 6.  

That she would only have more 6 days.

So, as I stood in Sophia's room, wanting desperately for time for myself, I could not help but think about this family. This family who would have much less to do, who would have more time for themselves.  Who would give anything for another chance to hold their beautiful blond daughter. I laid down, said two prayers--one thanking God for my children, and another for Maddie and her family--and spent some time with Sophia.  

It wasn't much, just about 6 minutes.

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