Monday, August 10, 2009

That Abby Would Have a Big Bunk Bed, Too

I stumbled into a moment of sweetness tonight so pure, so tender, it took my breath away.

It was made all the more remarkable by the contrast of the minutes before. I was on my own with the kids tonight, and as I herded my clan upstairs for bedtime, they both managed to earn time outs in the loud, irritating, let's-take-our-frustration-with-the-day-out-on-mommy kind of way. Once I had them both placed in their rooms for a little cool-down time, I hopped on the computer to check my email, wondering just how long the next twenty minutes would be.

Fortunately, the few minutes of alone time seemed to settle us all down, and the pajama and toothbrushing routine carried on uneventfully. My agreement with Ben anytime I'm in charge of putting them both down by myself is that we'll have time to read books if he's ready for bed by the time I'm done putting Abby down. This time, he was ready before I even started reading books with Abby, so he grabbed his Teddy and blankie and joined us in the oversized green rocking chair in Abby's room. Thus began a few moments of parental bliss.

We read "Kih-ess," as Abby pronounces Kisses, both kids finishing the sentences before I could read them. Abby was sandwiched between me and Ben, and the air was filled with alternating giggles, exclamations, and small gestures of affection. Then we read Cow in the Cabbage Patch, with Abby repeating all the animal sounds throughout and Ben imitating all of Abby's animal imitations. When we finished the books, I turned off the light and asked who wanted to pray and sing.

Ben said he did, and so he prayed, beginning with our customary "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" prayer as inherited from Uncle Sean and Aunt Lisa and then leading into "Dear Jesus...". He thanked God for all of our family, immediate and extended, for our yummy dinner earlier, for Abby again, and then prayed that Abby could have a big bunk bed, too. This must be the penultimate request for a four year old who adores his own bunk bed, and I was moved by his generosity toward his sister.

Then he began to sing, and the room grew quiet except for his strong, confident voice which, though lacking pitch, did not lack soul. We rocked in that green chair, the three of us content to share those precious, snuggly, end-of-the-day moments together, listening first to "A Simple Song" followed by "You Are My Sunshine" and ending with "Jesus Loves Me." At one point, Abby crawled onto my lap and laid her head down on my shoulder, perfectly stilled by Ben's music. My eyes grew moist with gratitude.

When he finished singing, they exchanged precious "night night"s in their little voices and snuggled a minute together in the chair, Abby's head next to Ben, arms wrapped gently around each other--neither looking particularly comfortable but both happy to stay there indefinitely. They adore each other--they really do. In each other's eyes, they are the sun, moon, and stars. I let them snuggle for longer than I normally would, reveling in their love for each other.

When I finally lifted Abby into my arms to carry her to her crib and Ben walked to the door, they both started singing "You Are My Sunshine" again, independent of each other. Ben continued singing into his room; Abby sang in the endearing way only a baby on the brink of girlhood can--in round, soft words, rising and falling with the melody of the song, some syllables indistinguishable from the next. I kissed her, laid her down, and quietly closed the door behind me.

Few things fill my heart like their genuine affection for each other. When I see them in those moments of pure love, I get a glimpse of what I think God must feel, and desire, for His children. There's a reason that all of His commandments--all of Scripture, really--can be summed up by the simple yet profound command to "Love your neighbor." When I see Ben and Abby enjoying each other so completely, loving each other so unselfishly, with no regard for themselves, my joy is unspeakable. Everything is as it should be. It is the fulfillment of every hope I would have for them.

It is what God the Father must long for from us: to put away our agendas, our religion, our politics, and our fear of losing our toys to actually see, know, and love each other. To pray that we'll all have bunk beds, not in spite of our differences, but because through our differences, we can actually know Him more fully, more completely.

I stumbled into a holy night tonight. And it was very good.

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