A couple of years ago I made a choice to stop rushing through bedtime with my children. It happened sort of by accident. I was going through the typical bedtime routine with my daughter, Arsema—reading a few books, singing a few songs, then tucking her into bed—and something precious happened. I leaned over to give her one last kiss, and she started talking.
She told me about all the things she did that day. I heard stories from school, and I learned what stood out to her as special at home. She asked me questions and told me what she wanted to do the next day. I heard her say things like, “Maybe we’ll go to a basketball game?” and, “Will you paint my toesies in the morning?”
But I almost missed out on it. In my exhaustion and preoccupation with my to-do list, I’ve cut her off early in the course of too many other evenings. When she first started to talk to me at bedtime, I listened for a moment before telling her that it was time for bed and that we’d talk in the morning. But when morning came she had either forgotten what she was going to share with me, or she simply didn’t want to anymore. I felt a twinge of disappointment and then went on with the day. After a few mornings like this, I decided to let her talk at night—and the result was meaningful connection.
Now this beautiful scene plays out at the end of each day by her bedside: I learn what is important to my daughter. As she shares her memories and things she misses or looks for- ward to, I get a glimpse of her heart. We get uninterrupted time to connect as the room is quiet and still and dark. She isn’t competing with anything or anyone else for my attention. Arsema and I are together, and she blossoms. I have learned to be still and quiet and to talk only if she asks me a question or if I need to let her know I’m listening. I don’t guide her words or try to teach her things as I sometimes do during the day. This time is my turn to sit and learn from her.
When it’s my turn to put my son to bed, he does something similar. Usually he shares one or two things about his day or something hilarious from his imagination and then falls asleep. These moments are treasures.
I’ve learned that there is something so sweet about the still and quiet silence that fosters open-heart sharing. I’ve learned that there is no to-do list more important than listening to my children, and that they are sharing the most profound bits of their hearts in the whispers of evening.
** Excerpted from Lauren Casper's new book, It's Okay About It - available for pre-order now!