“She has a strength and confidence I don’t think I have,” my oldest daughter whispered as I pulled the speckled turquoise duvet up to cocoon her from the night. With the looks of her papi and the quiet countenance of her abuelita, she has always been an old soul — pensive, serious, observant. We are a family of words: bilingual, bicultural, and biracial. In hindsight, her comment didn’t surprise me, but it did give me pause. What does strength and confidence look like to a seven-year-old, I wondered in that split second as her words held bedtime at bay.
In this apprenticeship of mothering, I am learning there are as many joyous moments as there are off-putting surprises that I won’t be able to shield her from in this world. While I’d like to grab her by the hand to whisk her through the messes and mishaps and gently steer her away from the heart pangs and headaches of poor choices and misguided decisions, I am realizing my role is to steward her through, to be trusted counsel and unwavering love as she learns to navigate the world. From social situations to loving who she is when she looks in the mirror, to embracing who she was created to be, there are many tributaries to travel in this far too complex season of childhood.
Because I wear many hats through the course of a day, evening’s cloak brings a welcoming rest and sense of peace that I cherish. Maybe you can relate. As much as I wanted to withdraw and allow the night to envelope and hush the house, I couldn’t let the opportunity fall flat. This was a door to understanding a microcosm of her world — my own access to Narnia, if you will. So I pushed on through the wardrobe to learn what strength and confidence means to a seven-year-old questioning her power and place in the world.
“She says things, and she doesn’t care what other people think.”
“Tell me more. What kinds of things?”
“Things that hurt people’s feelings.”
Oh baby girl, I wanted to say wishing I could be a safeguard against the hurtful words and the meanness of the world. Her hurt and confusion reawakened the pangs of acceptance and uncertainty from my own childhood. I knew my words and timing required a scalpel to carefully and cautiously traverse my daughter’s tender heart holding the issues of the inner circle versus alienation — such a heavy burden for seven-year-olds to bear.
We talk about these traits and try to hone them by being consistent in our responses. We teach how we consider others as more important than ourselves when it comes to insisting on our way, being first in line, always having the biggest cookie. And on and on.
Bedtime, that sacred moment in our house, when everyone is bathed and all sixty teeth are brushed — give or take a few that the tooth fairy has carried off — when all three of our little people are settling into pillows with books in hand, that moment is the pièce de résistance. The hushing of our house and the quieting of our souls to a revealing stillness. Maybe you’ve sat in such a moment with your littles, or not so littles, to truly hear their hearts searching for a lighthouse of encouragement on the horizon to lay anchor in safe harbor.
As we say our goodnights in dimly lit spaces, this is our prayer, this is our song—
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV)
May solace settle upon us all. Amen.
Share your favorite bedtime moments with your children
or a song or prayer you say over them.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you... Numbers 6:24-25: Click To Tweet