This Day But Once

It’s 8:30pm. The house is quiet. I am standing at the kitchen sink, washing the day’s dishes, as my husband puts away endless toys (currently cardboard boxes and plastic cups) in the living room. And then, the quiet creak of a bedroom door…

Miles: “Mama, I think you forgot to put ice cubes in my water.”

Me: “Oh my, well please come to the kitchen and I will fill your cup!”

Delighted smile, he tiptoes to the kitchen, amazed at the prospect of leaving his bedroom after goodnight kisses and venturing to the kitchen.

It is now 8:45pm. I am standing in my usual spot still, at the kitchen sink. And again, the quiet creak of a bedroom door…

Miles: “Mama, can I sleep with my flashlight?”

Me: “Hmm. Well I suppose so, as long as you remember to turn it off and let your body rest soon.”

A happy dance ensues as I bring the small flashlight to his room.

8:50pm, and we are nearing the homestretch of nightly chores as I wipe down the dinner table and prepare to sit and read (maybe). And yet, the quiet creak of a bedroom door…

Miles: “Oh, Mama, I am untucked from my blankie. Can you tuck me back in?”

Me: “Of course, my dear one!”

Relish in the sweet smell of his post-bath hair one more time as I tuck him in – again – and steal another goodnight kiss.

8:55pm. That was fast…

Miles: “Mama, do you think that dinosaurs climbed trees?”

Me: “Some, yes, but not all, much like animals today. We have swimmers, crawlers, runners, climbers, flyers, all made to do their very important jobs in their very special way.”

Miles: “I wonder if T-Rex is sad he could not climb trees?”

Me: “I bet T-Rex was happy to sit and watch his friends climb trees.”

Miles: “I bet so. Goodnight, Mama.”

9:00pm. The Adulting Hour. We are sitting, watching Law & Order, eating Chinese take-out. The quiet creak arises once more, but not seeing Mama at her usual spot in the kitchen, Miles quietly tiptoes to the living room.

Miles: “Mama! What are you doing?!”

Me: “Well, sometimes adults have dinner after their children have already gone to bed. It is one of the great surprises of growing older.”

Miles, noticing fruit: “Oh, I love strawberries!”

Me: “Me too. Maybe we can share some at breakfast?”

Miles: “Okay. Can I have one more hug?”

Me: “Always, my love.”

One of my favorite poets, Dylan Thomas, penned one of my favorite poems in the 1930s, which included the line, “Do not go gentle into that good night…rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

But these words could have easily been penned by my toddler.

Of course we want you to sleep…we love for you to sleep (and maybe one day your baby brother will join in the sleep party) but what I have learned, what I know and feel in my soul, is that today is the only day you will be in this moment. You will never be 2 years, 10 months and 23 days old again, because time is fleeting. And so I pause to find the joy in your revelation that the bedroom door opens, and you can escape. I find wonder in your clever ability to make the sweetest requests, none of which can be turned down. I find love overflowing, even as I wake again at 2am for the youngest. Because I know that, like you, he will never be 10 months and 23 days old again.  This day, we have but once.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light, my dear ones.


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