January 7, 2014

The one with bedtime ritual

Category: Critter Stories

“Mama, can we talk?”

A question Spud would ask every night without fail after I tuck her in.

…a question I would almost never say no to ever since we started this chatting-before-bed-ritual.

…a routine I started when she was barely 2.5 years old as a desperate measure on my part to counter her perpetual rejection towards me.

…a strategy I had employed as soon as I realized that Spud could do a 2-way conversation, no matter how limited her vocab was at that time.

It has been almost a year now since we got into this routine, and, I truly believe that it had paved the way for some healing to take place between Spud and me.  It has now become an importand and special bonding time between us, as, no matter how hard the day has been, this little routine makes all unhappiness go away (Well. Almost all!).

This particular routine typically involves me sprawling next to Spud on her bed, while I ask questions about her day and her telling me things that have no relation to the questions I asked and then listening to her talk about things that sometimes don’t quite make any sense. I indulge her in every way I can, and we would always do a run-down of the day or talk just about anything and nothing.

It’s also almost like a closure for the day when issues are “discussed”, sorry-s are being said (which includes ME apologizing to her if I had lose my head on her with or without reasons) and emotional imbalance (mostly mine) gets adjusted to set everything right for the next day ahead. Spud loves our chats and I, for one, have found it to be very therapeutic.

While at it, Spud would go, “Can I talk more?” every other minute, as if she doesn’t want the session to end.

After about 5 or 10 minutes of chatting, we would usually end the session with big hugs, big kisses, and Spud stalling for time to extend her bedtime indefinitely with yet another round of  a “Mama, can I talk more. Just for a little bit.”

Sounds cute and endearing and all, but sometimes, when exhaustion kicks in, especially after a long and stressful day, as well as having to continue with work right after, I find that I want to extract myself from the bedtime chats which eats up all but 10 minutes of my time as quickly as I can. Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated as she stalls for time, and I get annoyed when I can’t do a quick exit out of her room because I have something else to do.

When things are pleasant with her, I try to remind myself that she’s only stalling for a few more minutes. Those few minutes are time I do have and I indulge her just a little bit more. In my rare moments of clarity, I get overwhelmed by how quickly time had gone by, and I have caught myself thinking that I don’t really want her to grow up too fast.

When such moments of rare clarity hit me, I actually cannot even bring myself to think that one fine day, there would come a time when she may decide that she’s done with our special nightly chats and would no longer want me in her bed anymore. A rather sad thought – but one that would not happen so soon. Until then, I intend to cherish this special bonding time for as long as I could and for as long as Spud would allow me to.

Being the rejected parent at the start of our relationship was hard, both mentally and emotionally. It was a dreadful journey I never wish upon other parents to ever experience. That being said, I am ever so glad that somehow, an otherwise latent mother’s instinct took over and gave me the foresight to start this special routine which has proven to be very emotionally rewarding.

While I haven’t quite figured out the logistics of managing such sessions with 2 kids who are sleeping in separate bedrooms, I am certain that this is one ritual which I would also be doing with Squirt in the time to come.

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