My daughter hooked her arm securely around mine as I held her at my hip–a cripplingly cute mannerism of hers that melts me to my core every single time.
Vocalizing airplane sound effects, I made an extravagant production of swooping my giggling passenger down to the floor to pick up each member of the Hundred Acre Wood institutionalized as her Bedtime Crew, currently featuring Piglet (her go-to daytime stuffty) as well as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger (the night-shift support staff who allow for optimal snugglization).
Her teeth brushed and hands washed, she knew we were coming up on bedtime and began her nightly wind-down ritual: gripping Piglet and Company, sticking her beloved right thumb in her mouth, and embracing day’s end with open arms and heavy eyelids.
Our son, however–currently in his mother’s arms–was performing his own nightly routine: maniacal arm-flails punctuated by Oscar-worthy whines. Never ready to pack it in, he’ll dash for the playroom or point at the turned-off tv in a last-ditch effort to stay up just a little longer, to milk as much out of the day as possible. There are still so many blocks to stack, so many books to read, so many Sing-Along Songs to groove to.
And while his unrelenting desire to be awake can be burdensome, I don’t ever fault him for it.
He gets it from me.
I leaned towards my wife to kiss my son’s pouting lips goodnight, followed by my wife maneuvering her face through the bouquet of Pooh-Corner-plush to kiss my daughter, and we each brought the Twins into their respective bedrooms.
My daughter snuggled close, resting her forehead on my shoulder, the gentle sound of thumbsucking emanating from below it.
Bedtime is my daily reminder that I am, in fact, cut out for this whole parenting thing, because no matter how many times during the day the Twins have thrown inconsolable tantrums, punched me in the balls to get my attention, or kicked their own poo at me in a diaper change gone awry, I still don’t want to part with them for the night. Even though I’m fortunate enough to spend more time with them than anyone else, I still can’t get enough of them.
And as I looked down at my daughter’s warm little head buried in my chest, imagining how rawly and purely comfortable it must be, I felt sad having to end that moment.
I could hold her like that forever.
But as we all know, that’s not how it works.
Because bedtime also reminds me that another day has passed–another notch on my life and theirs, each one hurling them further and further away from the tiny new beings I marveled at the day they were born, away from faces that light up when they see Daddy at their cribs every morning.
Call me obsessive, but I can’t help being acutely aware of life’s brevity. At the risk of sounding trite, I really take to heart the notion that every day is an opportunity we can either balk at or take advantage of, and becoming a parent and seeing how quickly the Twins have grown already has only amplified this.
People think I’m nuts for attempting all I do in a given day, sprinting from Elmo board books to annotated bibliographies, from Sippy Cups to Skype meetings, from Legos to laundry to dishwashing to date night and back again.
I’ll admit I can’t always chew everything I bite off, but as advised by countless coaches from my legen–wait for it–dary Pop Warner football career, I “leave everything on the field” every day doing things I’m passionate about, and the feeling I have come bedtime is more satisfying than any I’ve ever experienced.
Which is the very same attitude I’m starting to see in my son as he completely throws himself into learning, playing, living. One of his favorite words is “muh” (toddler for “more”), and I hear it rapid-fire all day: one more Lego tower, one more lap around the living room, one more game of Tell Me Stuff To Point At In My Favorite Word Book.
“Muh, Dad! Muh!”
I’ll often go to to the kitchen to get him “muh” water in the middle of an intense playing session and return to find him snoring on the playroom floor, Magna Doodle still in hand.
That is, until my scheming daughter yanks it out and runs off with it, giggling mischievously.
. . .
My daughter shuffled in my arms, pulling me out of my head and back to her.
I gave her one last squeeze, saying, “I love you, Baby Girl. Ni-night,” as I eased her into her crib. She sprawled out, shuffled her stuffties, and settled.
I turned to leave, but not a moment later, I heard her adorable little pixie voice dreamily repeat, for the first time ever, “Ni-night…”
I stopped dead, suddenly and completely awash in the mind-numbing cuteness I’d just witnessed.
To make sure I wasn’t just hearing things, I tried again. “Ni-night, baby.”
A soft sigh broke the silence, followed by another airy “Ni-night…”
Forcing myself not to giggle, I tiptoed to the door and called my wife in, whispering, “Tell her, ‘Ni-night.'”
She did, and again, our little echo complied. “Ni-night…”
. . .
After wrangling the Twins all day, I could easily hand putting them to bed over to my wife, who I’m sure would have no problem with it, having missed them at work all day, but if I’d done that this particular night, I would have missed one of the cutest things my daughter has ever done.
And this is why, for as long and as often as I am able to, I will be there at bedtime, because before I know it, “ni-night” will be “good night” and eventually “I’m moving out.”
I can’t stop it from happening, but at least I can enjoy it, one day at a time.
Twinfamy’s 100th Twincident Super Duper Celebration Extravaganza!
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
So this is my 100th post.
I realize I’ve done this for over a year now and that many bloggers achieve triple digits quicker than I have, but considering my family and scholastic commitments, the high (slightly perfectionist) standards with which I attempt to craft each installment, and the fact that for years before this I put virtually nothing creative out into the world, to me this is a real personal victory and a milestone truly worth celebrating.
Thanks to all of you for reading, sharing, commenting, and awesoming. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–without your encouragement, I never would have made it this far, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.
I’d buy you all a round of beers, but can barely afford my own since we’re a one-income household now, so if you could just pretend the next one you drink is from me, we should be square.
Thanks again, and until next time, ni-night.
You may also enjoy:
If not, I take back my ni-night.
And that imaginary beer, too.