Treasuring the moments before bedtimeWritten by Sarah Overturf
What's inside this article
I love the time of day when the mountains to the west have claimed the setting sun and yet the light lingers. The day is over - but not quite. The night has come – but not quite. The world is bathed in the soft-grey smudges of twilight. It’s dusk. Or to use an old word, it’s the gloaming.
We don’t use the word gloaming much anymore, but when I lift it from the pages of old books and dust it off, I find it is an inviting word – one that lingers on the porch and stretches the day just a bit longer. It’s a word that describes exactly what takes place in my home nearly every night.
In the gloaming
I have always been strict about bedtimes. I’m a firm believer in children needing their sleep and moms needing a little margin at the end of the day. The ritual in our house is straightforward: We read a couple of children’s books, read from the Bible, pray. Then I tuck three little bodies into bed, kiss them and turn out the light.
But something has happened as the years have gone by and the kids have grown older. There is no longer simply the day and the night, play time and sleep time. There is now the gloaming, a period where they are in bed yet not ready to sleep. They are tired but don’t want the day to end. Not quite yet. They long to linger in the gloaming. And what they want as they linger is me.
Sometimes they need to snuggle, and they squeeze to the opposite edge of the bed to give me room to lie down. Occasionally they want to giggle about something funny that happened. Sometimes they want me to ask them questions – what was their favourite part of the day, or their least favourite part, or what made them laugh. And every so often, they need to vent. They want me to know that a friend yelled at them or they were called a name or they couldn’t figure out their math problems.
Sometimes we cover the same ground night after night; other times we’re a thousand places at once. Often, what is on their minds is simply too big a burden for them to carry themselves. As night closes in, things often look worse than they really are, and they need someone to share their concerns.
A window of time
There is a great deal of honour in being someone a child can confide in – someone they want to talk to. The day may come, sooner than I realize, when I’ll long to know what is going on inside their hearts, but they will close the door and seek other listening ears. By lingering with them in the gloaming now, I think two things are happening. One, we’re dealing in real time with current events, and they’re learning how to express themselves, seek advice and problem solve. All that is important.
But something else happens that is even more important. By choosing to linger now, we extend the gloaming to the years to come. If they know now that Mom cares about what they say, that she listens and makes it a priority to find out what is happening in their lives, they will know whom they can turn to when the perplexing problems of adolescence arrive.
In all honesty, when bedtime rolls around, I am usually more than eager to turn out the light and be done with the day. I’m ready to hang up the mom hat and have a little time to myself. But this season in my children’s lives will not last long. We are in the gloaming for only a brief moment, and I can linger there in the last rays of sun, or I can pull the shades and hasten the night.
I prefer to linger just awhile longer.
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