I know all too well what Michelle Horton is talking about when it comes to the bed-time regret because my own version is similar. The day has been long and busy. Some days more stressful than others, and some days my mind more preoccupied than others. Every day ends the same way, my son in bed peacefully sleeping with his sweet innocent relaxed slumbering face and my heart melts. He has me captivated. I could watch him sleep all night and get lost in the subtle baby softness that still lingers on his face even at 3. And then a surge of regret hits me right in the middle of a peaceful moment and its then that I allow myself to wish the events leading up to bedtime unfolded in a different way.
I wish my tired exhausted self didn’t snap at my son to sit on the potty for the 15th time. I wish I was more patient when he was trying to tickle me and get one last play session squeezed into the day. I wish I kept my cool while he was brushing his teeth rejoicing in the fact he was learning a new skill. I wish I could keep a calm exterior as I asked him yet again to put his toys away. I wish I hadn’t raised my voice when asking him to put his dirty clothes in the basket.
I wish for a lot of things when this regret hits, and when the house is quiet and my sweet curly haired boy is fast asleep I don’t want to wish for a do-over or regret what led up to such a sweet event. I don’t want to dwell on a day gone and all the missed opportunities of being present. I want to sit in the calm darkness of his room, rocking backing and forth, with the lingering sweetness of his lavender lotion still hanging in the air. I want to sit and absorb, and savor. I want to sit and feel my heart filling up with such sweetness that words can’t capture its magnitude. I want to sit still and enjoy the presence of my son as the sun sets and the anticipation of another day awaits.
So tonight my own version of the post-bedtime regret changes and it starts with me saying yes to one last tickle fight, finding the joy in my son brushing his own teeth and mastering a new skill. It starts with me being patient, being present and recognizing these times are fleeting. It starts with me smiling, reassuring, hugging, and being calm. It starts with me gently reminding and understanding that he is curious, excited, and the world is full of wonder for him. It will start with me sitting in our rocking chair where I once held a 5 pound baby, and taking in the present moment.
And the evening will wind down as it does every night, but tonight, I snuggle my toddler smelling the damp sweetness of his freshly washed hair and absorbing the warmth and weight of his body in my lap. I kiss his plump baby cheek relishing the softness and smoothness. I wrap his favorite blanket around him comforted by the familiar knitting. I close my eyes absorbing the sweet lullaby music, the deep steady rhythmic breathing of my son against my chest comforted by his slow heartbeat, and I inhale deeply capturing the sweetness of his baby soap just a hint on his warm skin, and I am content, happy, and renewed; for today was a great day and tomorrow is another full of possibilities without regrets.