We. were. exhausted. The clock’s minute hand pointedly flirted toward the 10pm mark, as if silently sprinkling salt onto the wound of a seemingly never-ending day. Tick. You lost your temper. Tock. Bathtime is going to be a disaster. Tick. Just skip the bubbles tonight. Tock. You’re way off schedule already.
It was true. We’d had a busy, frenzied day, the rare kind that leaves you in a tailspin of dropped balls, spinning plates, missed messages. We’d driven many miles, endured a slew of tantrums, tackled errand after errand in an effort to satisfy the list – the one that lures you into thinking productivity is more important than presence. Bee and I were both edgy from different things – she didn’t get the cookie; I didn’t conquer the list. It was late. We were tired. A sure recipe for a meltdown.
And as the clock ticked past ten and I thought of everything I wanted to accomplish before Ken came home from his business trip, I mentally began rushing through bedtime, tempted to ignore our bath tradition altogether. But then, I paused. And I remembered a mantra I hold close to my heart for moments like this: Rushing days means rushing years.
I believe this to be true. I’ve lived years rushing days, wishing away moments, discarding seconds as if they’re useless commodities unworthy of savoring. And if anything is worthy of savoring, it is this time – this very moment of this very day with the very children who have been entrusted to us.
And so, I reset. And I knelt down, forehead to forehead. “Lady? Are you in the mood for bubbles tonight?”
It’s moments like this that are difficult to put into words – the brief lapse when a fury of light enters her eyes and her smile blooms into a field of unapologetic sunflowers – widening beyond belief. She giggled, “Yes, yes, yes!” running down the hallway as she discarded layer after layer of clothing and readied her bath toys for a surefire adventure.
And as the bubbles emerged and her damp hair created tendrils and her toes grew pruney, we talked. We apologized for our tantrums and laughed at the day’s misfortunes and theorized over whether or not Dad was going to come home with treats for his favorite girls. And as the warm bubbles soothed Bee’s skin, the quiet moment cleansed my soul.
It was a day of imperfections, this much is true. But it’s not lost on me that this moment of restoration – this opportunity to begin anew, even before the moon had fully risen – might have been missed. How many times have I rushed through bathtime, focusing on the means rather than the moment? How often had I forgone the bubbles – the joy, the light, the magic – in lieu of time and schedules and routines?
As I scooped her up and wrapped her into a cozy towel, I thanked her for a lovely night. She smiled, “No prob, mom,” and yawned as we rocked in her chair for a bit. I sang her a lullaby as her eyelids fluttered and the clock ticked past 11pm. But this time, the ticks weren’t harsh. Its mood had changed. Our mood had changed.
It had been clarified, by nothing more than a few bubbles and a dose of truth. Tick. We have this moment. Tock. Let it be ours.
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