Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Night-night (a meditation on getting to sleep)

One of the greatest joys of my day is getting to put my daughter to bed each night, which does not happen every day of the week... but typically I put her down 6 nights a week. At least this semester.

It doesn't matter what kind of day we've had (we're in the "terrible two" phase after all), or how tired I am, or whether I go up there initially with the feeling that I'd like a night off or am feeling exhausted and want to just crash on the couch and relax.

As soon as our bedtime ritual begins, I'm hooked. I fall in love with her at the end of the day and everything is erased except for the power of holding my tiny girl and being completely present with her.

I relish each step of our evening custom from the time Daddy brings up the bottle and Ari's must-have stuffed animals (Mickey Mouse and two boston terriers that are both named Si-Si in honor of our actual dog, Simon) to the time I turn off her light and walk out of the room. In between, here is what we do:
  • Turn on the elephant lamp, turn off the overhead light, turn on the sound machine, and sit down on our big orange ottoman;
  • Hold the bottle with my right hand as Ari places her right hand on top of mine or plays with my thumb, and position my left hand so that she can grasp it with her left hand and play with my fingers (if I do not do this... she will wiggle around until she can find my free hand);
  • Sing Rock-a-Bye Baby, Blue Shadows (from The Three Amigos), Summertime (why not throw a little Cole Porter in there?), Hush Little Baby, and then a final song of my choice that usually cycles through Somewhere Over the Rainbow, If I Had a Hammer, They Can't Take That Away From Me, or The Rainbow Connection (from The Muppet Movie)... at this point she will take the bottle out of her mouth and point to her crib;
  • Put the bottle on the arm of the chair, stand up, kiss Ari approximately 3-4 times, say "I love you," and place her in the crib;
  • Cover her with the blanket, make sure her water bottle is within sight, make sure Mickey, Mama Si-Si, and Dada Si-Si are all visible, and turn on her "fishies" (an acquarium crib thing with music and lights);
  • Turn off the elephant light, grab the bottle, and head downstairs.
I love the ritual, I love how important it is to both of us. I love that we found this process organicially - following each other's unspoken suggestions and honoring one another's needs to find a common path that has become our special practice. It's an event that has moved beyond habit and become ceremony: predictable, significant, and sacred to us both.

1 comment:

Dana Dardai said...

Hi there! Short time reader first time poster. I love the way you write.

I also love that you call it ritual, rather than a patter or routine. It has so much more meaning when it's call a sleepitime ritual.