The Precious Present

In our house, saying goodnight is not as simple as it used to be. We’d tuck our daughter in, give her a kiss, and wish her sweet dreams before walking out of the room.

But somewhere in between toddlerhood and preparing forpreschool, our kiddo has found her independence…kind of.

“Don’t tuck me in, Mommy!” she insists with a smidge of sass. “Okay, I won’t tuck you in,” I say patiently.

I linger at the top of the stairs because I know what’s coming next: “Mommy, I do want you to tuck me in! I do!!” she whimpers.

And that’s how it’s been going every night for the last few weeks. One step forward, two steps back — the toddler tango.

It’s a ritual that flirts with the line between frustrating and endearing. I love my daughter, but like a lot of moms I’m ready to be off the clock when she goes to bed. There are dishes to wash, laundry to fold, and a husband that I haven’t seen all day waiting downstairs.

But for her, this ritual embodies that struggle between wanting to be independent and still needing her mommy, between wanting to grow up and wanting to hold on tight.

When I take a step back, it’s the same struggle I think we all experience as moms—wishing our kids could do more on their own but also pleading, “slow down, time!” At first, I couldn’t wait for her to walk so I didn’t have to carry her everywhere. Now, I wish she’d let me carry her so I could sneak in some more snuggles.

It’s that sticky spot in between.

When our daughter was first born, I remember so many moms telling me, “Cherish every moment!” With a polite smile and a nod, I thought of all the spit up on my shoulder, the nasty blowouts, the sleepless nights. I knew I’d never cherish those moments.

I’m beginning to understand their wisdom, but I’d rather put it in my own words.

Be present. Appreciate each stage for what it is rather than looking ahead or behind. What sticks with you most are the moments that aren’t rushed.

So I’ll smile as I wait at the top of the stairs and listen for her calling. I know it won’t be long.

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