Thursday, April 11, 2013


I'm a ritual-oriented person.  I like my religion teeming with incense and chant.  I like my run with the sounds of nature.  I like my Guinness cold (and, let's be honest, that sentence should read in the plural...).  I dont like to eat a M&M of one color if I cant eat it in evens (i.e. one red one on each side of my mouth).  I will actually sort things out like that.  I like evens more than odds, and things in fives are good (as long as I'm not eating them).  I'm weird like that, I know.  It's a life long thing; I've come to accept it.  Rituals play a huge role in my life, and, I can see in so many ways, in Bobby and Maya's lives too.

Our afternoon ritual is a big one, as is our bedtime ritual.  They need to go off without a hitch for things to run smoothly, although we have our bumps in the road.  Today's nap was no exception.  We have our lunch, clean up, and then it's "night-night" time.  Maya turns on the light and the noisemaker- rain setting. I pull the curtain over the door to block hallway light.  The 2 windows, each with blackout shades, must be done just so, to make the room as dim as possible.  I kiss Maya and she gets into bed, where her bedtime pals (we're up to her lovey plus 3) must be in the order she deems correct, then her sheet and main blanket (or comforter in winter) are pulled up (her prayer blanket remains down... that's for later).  Bobby, while being held, turns off the light by the cord, leaving the ceiling fan on, and I sing "Oh Bobby Boy/Maya Girl", usually twice (one for each).  When I lay Bobby down in his bed, he grabs for his lovey, and then wants his sheet, blanket/comforter, and prayer blanket put up to his shoulder, then he rolls over on his side, facing the side of the room where Maya sleeps.  At this point, I walk to Maya's bed, while finishing the song, and when I'm done, I kiss her forehead (Bobby gets his final kiss before getting into bed) and tell her "I love you; have a good night-night".  At this point, she closes her eyes, snuggles down, and wants me to pull her prayer blanket up just enough that it covers her eyes but keeps her face clear.  Then I walk away, pulling the door curtain closed all the way.

The entire ritual takes less than 10 minutes, sometimes 15 if something wacky is going on.  But it is a 10 minute requirement for the next 2 hours to go smoothly.  They want it.  They need it on some level.  And honestly, so do I.  As naps weaned down from every few hours to 2 a day and now down to 1 a day, it's this moment that brings me back to their pregnancy, when I would hold my belly and sing to them, begging them to stay put just a bit longer... to our NICU days when I would rock them slowly, singing pub songs and telling them how much I loved them... to their newborn and infant days, when my hours were filled with just holding them and loving on them.  As they age and grow, and this aspect of our lives fades into primary school and field trips with them, I'm reminded that I wont always have this 10 minutes of calm and just love.  Already, Maya is more than happy to be 13 and run away to do "big girl" things (even when those big girl things are wonderful things).  Bobby still gives me some extra cuddles and snuggles, but I know that the time will come when I'm not the woman he gives those hugs and kisses to.  This is a ritual that has no option but to fade away, but while I have it, I'm hanging onto it for dear life, just like the air that I breathe.

At night, it becomes more of Peter's show.  After dinner, the kids play and/or watch part of a movie or show for a bit while I clean up, then Peter starts the bedtime start.  He does their teeth brushing and bath and then it's PJ time (after lotion of course!).  They each get to read a story (the current faves are the Good Night World series), then they have a drink of water, kiss Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander's box, and say their prayers (after choosing an icon).  Then I sing the night-night song of evening (I have no idea where this came from actually... I sing and sign it.  "Good night, Maya.  Good night, Bobby.  Good night, Mommy and Daddy (and Michael!).  We'll see you tomorrow... for breakfast!  And XXX!  {could be "school", "church", the name of someone we are visiting, etc}).  Then I say "Good night.  I love you." and leave.  Peter sings them a Spanish lullaby he grew up with, then he leaves.  Sometimes they will talk to each other for a bit, other times, they just go to bed.  Again, it's a ritual that we all need, and one that will fade.  They'll go to bed of course, but there will come a time when we wont give them baths... when they wont want us for storytime and snuggles... when they just close their doors and go to sleep.

Rituals arent to say that we dont change things up a bit.  Today, we played a game after I picked the kids up from school.  I had said to Peter that, should they have a good day/go potty/etc, that maybe I'd surprise them and take them to the local orchard store for a cookie.  They love that store (and the employees love them), so I thought it would be a nice treat.  "I have a surprise," I told them as we left.  "Can you guess where we are going?"  Maya, of course, said 'home' but I reminded her that we we're going to do something special.  Bobby then says, "ice cream!".  Which is huge because he was paying attention and able to respond to a 3 way conversation.  As Maya tells me about the birthday of a classmate and that they sang happy birthday at school, Bobby continues to mull over where we are going when I stay on Main Street, and by-pass where we would turn for Rita's (he calls ice cream and Rita's both "ice cream" when he's saying them).  Then, he says, "Cookies!!!!" which is what he says whenever we go by Tabora.  I parked and when I turned was greated with the biggest smile.  "Yes," I confirmed.  "Cookies!"  He starts to kick his feet and clap his hands and Maya joins in.  What happy little guys.  So, not following our routine doesnt always upset the status quo, but I mean... we are talking about homemade cookies here!


sunflowerchilde said...

I am also very ritual-centered! I wish my life were more so ... I'd like to include meditation. And I have some of those same quirks you do, I chalk it up to mild OCD. We are having major struggles right now since our naptime and bedtime rituals are just getting totally overturned, with my son moving to a bed but refusing to give up the bottle, and my daughter vice versa (happy in her crib, but didn't mind giving up the bottle). We've been trying to establish new routines, but so far no luck, and I think it has been really hard on all of us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michele. I am having a bad day. Day two. I wanted to write about it but couldn't find the worda you helped me. I hope you dnt mind cause I need to borrow a few of yours. I love how your rasing your kiddos. I love that I was a small part of their start in ife by being able to Pray for them. And you can bet I'm Praying for Michael also! And all of you. Xoxox Kandi Ann

Brigid said...

I hear you guys, I love having a routine! It can be very unnerving when things get out of whack.

That bottom story about the cookies was so precious! Now I want to polish off a whole box...

Michele said...

Borrow away, Kandi Ann! :)