My favorite juicy neck..
My raging pregnancy hormones have turned me into a weepy sap. I don't remember feeling this way when I was pregnant with Elijah. I cry over everything, and once I start crying I have a really hard time stopping. One of my main crying triggers lately has been Elijah. When I think about what a strong little person he is, or when I think about how much he has been through, or when I think about how he is going to feel about a new baby being in the house, or when I think about putting him on a bus to go to preschool next month, the tears instantly start gushing.
Lately I have been making an extra effort to cherish every single moment I get to spend with my little boy. I adore my time with him and I try to never let a single second go to waste. Maybe part of it has to do with being a working mom, but I feel like I do a really good job of making the most of our time together. I hope I am always this eager and able to do that.
One of the best opportunities I have for this (and my absolute favorite part of each day) is the 20 minutes Elijah and I spend alone together before bed. I look forward to this time every day, and when we are in the moment, I literally try to breathe it in. It is our special chunk of time spent with each other and I do everything I can to protect it. I almost never take Dan up on his offers to put Elijah to bed, and I try to schedule evening plans so they don't interfere with bedtime.
One of the good things I believe Dan and I have done as parents is to start a bedtime routine early on. This has made it so that bedtime is always an enjoyable experience. We literally started a routine the day we got home from the hospital when E was three weeks old, and we have only strayed from it on very rare occasions. We have never experienced bedtime struggles, not even the tiniest bit (aside from a short stint early on when he was sleep-deprived). We also strongly believe in early bedtimes (which equals a well-rested child) and separate sleeping quarters, but I'm getting off topic.
I want to document my nightly bedtime routine with my little boy because who knows what is going to happen to it once the baby comes. I always want to remember the details because they are all so special to me:
We clean up toys (E is surprisingly always very willing to do this) and brush teeth. The two of us head upstairs to the loft, where we read a few books. He goes through phases where he will have favorites and we read the same book every night for a month. We are currently stuck on Dr. Seuss' Oh the Thinks You Can Think and If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff. Elijah loves being read to, he always has, so we always have a fun interaction as I read. Sometimes we read a book enough that he starts to say the lines with me.
After reading, we say good night to Edward the Train (because he is usually lodged in E's hand all day long) and give him kisses and put him to sleep on the couch. Then we "walk 'a bedroom!" Even though Elijah can walk independently now, I think it gives him comfort to either be held or to hold my hand on the way to bed. I could try to force him to make this walk on his own, but this is our special time so I allow it.
Once we are a few feet from his rocking chair, he races me to the chair and puts his arms over the seat. That is my cue to (gently) sit on his hands and say, "OH NO! I squished your arms!!" This is a reference to Big Squash squishing Larry the Cucumber's hat on Veggie Tales. Elijah thinks it's hilarious.
Once I'm in the chair, I pick up my monkey, usually saying, "Come here, Lovebug," as he nuzzles his face into my neck. We say prayers, then we talk about Jungle Junction (yes, still) and lately he has been asking me to kiss his "doocey 'eck" (juicy neck). So, I willingly give that delicious, soft neck some kisses while he giggles in my ear. When he's ready, he will say, "Bed," and that is when I ask for a kiss and a squeeze and put him into his crib.
He snuggles up with his two favorite blankies as I give him a few more kisses and tell him good night. The last thing he says to me is, "Goo' 'ight, Mom. I 'ove 'ou." I leave the room before my heart melts into a puddle on the floor.
I always walk out of his bedroom with my heart feeling so full of love and gratitude. There could not possibly be a better way to end each day.