Happily Even After
Bedtime and the Cross
by Josh Noem
Bedime at our house has a clear routine—baths at 7:30, prayers at 8, read till 8:30. After that, it is lights out and quiet time.
The two boys do great with this routine, but Lucy, who has her own room, is in her own little world. After tucking kids into bed, it usually takes two or three trips upstairs to tuck her in, get her a glass of water, find a different book, or who knows what else.
I’ve gotten pretty good at delaying any work I think I have to do until after the kids are in bed. I can avoid getting sucked into email or doing any other kind of work during the day to ensure that I’m spending good time with them while they are awake. In my mind, then, when they are in bed, it is a good time to be productive.
So, when my “work time” (or even “relaxing time”) gets interrupted, I’ve been struggling with feeling frustrated. Increasingly, I’ve been stomping up the stairs to tend to Lucy with a short fuse.
Last week, I asked Stacey to take a turn attending to Lucy, which she was happy to do. In the end, though, it didn’t relieve my frustration. It was an external fix to an internal problem.
I realized that it is not helpful to approach a tired and restless 4 year-old with frustration. She doesn’t give a hoot how I feel about the situation, God bless her. She only knows that she can’t sleep because her blanket has wrinkles in it.
The blessing of children is that they are self-oriented; they call me outside of myself in new and painful ways each and every day. Not that parenthood is a crushing burden—there are more than enough joys to tip the scales—but it is a path of self-sacrifice and growth. If I wanted to always have things my way, I wouldn’t have gotten married. Things are much more interesting this way.
So, my search for inner peace leads me to bedtime. Instead of looking at Stacey, hoping she’ll take care of it, I’m trying to answer Lucy’s call as a call to holiness. I hike up the stairs bearing the cross of suppressing my selfish expectations. She offers a kiss freely with her small lips as she lies snug under her blankets. I walk out of her room as though it were a cave and the stone has been rolled away.
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