It had been another long day. I’m not certain what made that one particularly exhausting, but I’d bet it had something to do with getting my four-year-old and six-year-old to and from school, keeping the teething baby reasonably content, getting the house in order, running errands, paying bills, answering emails, and working toward a writing deadline.
It was simply another ordinarily exhausting day. Haven’t you ever had one of those?
To be honest, I sped through the last few pages of our family bedtime story that evening. I just wanted to reach the end, which would mean I could close the book, give one more round of goodnight hugs, say our bedtime thanks, and finally be off-duty. I felt like I hadn’t even seen my husband since he walked through the front door after work, and I was looking forward to connecting with him while we each briefly shared about our busy days.
But then my daughter looked up at me with her big brown eyes — the same eyes that, just hours earlier, had filled with tears when I refused to buy her one small toy at Target, and relentlessly continued as I carried her out of the store and through the parking lot. She asked me to read “just one more story” while holding up her little pointer finger … and I agreed.
I can’t always give her what she thinks she wants, I thought to myself, but I can give her this.
No matter how long the day has been, no matter what else I still need to do, no matter how much I might rather be in my own bed reading my own books, I always do my best to agree to just one more for her.
The thing is, I realize that each day is another sentence in the stories of my children’s lives. Each moment, each action, each conversation shapes the words that will fill the hearts of my children when they look back and remember their time here with me.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are of times I spent sitting close to my own momma and daddy, reading just one more story. I’d like to think that when my children are grown and gone and reading books to their children, they will remember the moments they once spent with my arms wrapped around them. As they let their little ones climb into their laps and turn page after page together, I hope my children will remember these special times at our house. I’d like to believe they will continue to not only share the stories inside the books, but will also continue tell the story of a parent’s love penned through a simple bedtime ritual.
Reading bedtime stories is about so much more than just saying the words on the page. It is about sitting together, spending time undistracted by anything else, holding onto the books, and holding onto one another. Every time we tuck our children in bed and read them a book, we write the story of our presence in our children’s heart.
It’s one of the greatest stories ever told, and it is why I always try to say “yes” to just one more bedtime story.