I would have continued in this routine had it not been for the other day, actually several 'other day's ago, when I was listening to a talk by my all-time favorite apostle, Elder Jefferey R. Holland. This talk, Within the Clasp of Your Arms, was given in May of 1983 when Elder Holland was the president of Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. Here is the link, I recommend that you listen to it as opposed to reading it because his voice is steeped in the Spirit:
The talk recounts a dream Elder Holland had one night after coming down particularly hard on his five year old son, Matt. In that dream, Elder Holland required Matt to help drive one of two cars while the family was moving. Long story short, having realized the near impossible thing Elder Holland had asked of his son, he pulls the car he is driving over and runs back to find Matt. He sees him on the side of the road playing with an older man. The man looks at Elder Holland and says, "You should not have left him alone to do this difficult thing. It would not have been asked of you."
I dropped everything. It hit me with such force. I immediately started to cry. I knew at that moment if I had met my maker, His words to me would have been along the same line. "You should not have left her alone to do this difficult thing. It would not have been asked of you." I know bedtime seams like such a small part of the day. I know that at the end of my day, I really want to sit and spend time with my husband. I know at the end of my little one's day, she wants to snuggle and cuddle her mother. I am ashamed to say that, for the past 4 years of her life, I have not always put her bedtime needs above my own. I have rationalized it with thoughts like, "she'll only cry for a few minutes" or "I really need a break, she'll be okay" or "we'll start reading more when she's older" or even "It'll be healthier for her to get used to going to sleep on her own".
"It would not have been asked of you" just kept replaying over and over in my mind. I remember bedtimes when I was little. They were happy and peaceful, full of my mother's voice reading and singing and soothing. I am quite often overwhelmed, as I'm sure most of us are, with my inadequacies of a parent but I realized in the seemingly small thing, I could be better. I started to read to my little one every night, real stories and books like The Chronicles of Narnia. I also began singing to her again. One nights that she gets to bed on time, I will sing to her until she falls asleep. Some nights, unfortunately, she gets to bed very late because of our commitments. On those nights, I may not read but I do sing to her until she falls asleep or is okay with me getting up.
I know she enjoys it. She loves the books and the songs and most of the time, she sings along with me until she's too tired to continue. I enjoy it. It is a lot of fun to share my favorite stories with her. It does my heart good to see that bedtime is not as stressful for her anymore.
Tonight was a late night. We didn't read but we sang and she was okay with that. When I sing to her, I often have the same thought: What would I sing to her right now if it was the last time I would get to sing to her? What is the one message I want her to remember. I have this horrible fear that we will somehow be separated from each other. I know that, for the most part, it is irrational but it's still there and it sends me into near panic. But separated or not, I know there will come a time where she may want or be able to listen to me or may not want to confide in me. I also know that song is a powerful memory trigger. Songs have a profound effect on a person's spirit. So, what are the most important things that I want her to remember and bring to the forefront during times of uncertainty or unrest? The first one that comes to mind is, I Am a child of God:
The next most important thing I want my little one to know is how wholly and completely I love and adore her. I want her to know how amazing I think she is. I know there will be days where she feels rejected and alone and when she does, I want her to remember she is my world. I want her to remember that just because someone says something to her or about her doesn't make it true. Again I find my heart breaking for her because I know that there will be people who do not see her worth. There will be people who hurt her. And again, I find myself pleading with my Father to watch over her and protect her. I know He cannot spare her all of life's heartache but I also know that He can bolster her up and help her to be strong enough to bear it. I want her to know that I will always see her worth and I will always think she is wonderful! She will always be Baby Mine:
So these are where my thoughts are tonight. I know they are a little scattered and not written very well. And bedtime isn't the only place where I need to remember 'it would not have been asked of you'. So I'm setting a goal to more sensitive and compassionate toward my little one's needs. I am also going to make a bigger effort to share my testimony with my daughter and to take time during the day to remind her that she is a beloved daughter of God. Yup. Those are my goals for now.