I promised the boys I would be home before bedtime. That was our agreement. Home to give hugs and kisses and straighten blankets and refill water bottles and pray and read Chronicles of Narnia with my impeccable British accent that might be just a titch Scottish.

With the exception of C. S. Lewis, this bedtime routine normally makes me irritable. Especially the obsessive layering and straightening of the blankets, when I fear I’m fostering dependence, and I don’t want him to go to a slumber party – sorry, all-nighter is the boy version – and ask a mom to straighten his blankets with precision, or worse yet, his someday-bride.

But then he says, “but mommy, you do it so perfectly.” And then I decide I would rather he remember such perfection rather than a sleepy mom who barked at night, and so I risk the habitual routine and my someday-daughter-in-law’s resentment.

Tonight, I didn’t make it home before bedtime, even though I said I would.

I snuck into each of their rooms, tiptoed to their beds, and climbed the ladder right up into that cozy, top bunk nest.

I whispered apologies and affirmations.
I scratched backs and stroked noggins.
I put my head on his chest so he can put his fingers in my hair and I can check the rattling autumn wheeze in his chest, which is an exchange we both need sometimes.
Tucker woke enough to say, “How’d you get up here, anyway?”
Tyler’s eyebrows rose in his sleep, the only indication I have known since his first years that his sleeping self knew I was near.
I found glitter and sand.
I inadvertently triggered one toy to play the Star Wars theme and another to sing Rudolph’s song. (Shh. All of you. Shh.)

I even straightened the blankets.

Good night, my young leaders.
I’m crazy for you.

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