I love the rituals of bedtime. I love that Simon gets excited and runs to the gate at the bottom of the stairs when you say, "time for jammies" or "time for bath" (they get a bath every second night, for the most part). I love that Tristan is now capable enough that in the time it takes for Simon and me to make our way upstairs, he has already stripped out of his clothes, pulled off his diaper and tossed his clothes in the vicinity of the hamper. (Okay, about one time in seven his clothes are near the hamper without a gentle reminder. But we're getting there.)
I love the sound of kids in the bathtub together, and I love babies with the pre-bedtime crazies running nekkid around the upstairs. I love the smell of freshly washed boys in clean pyjamas.
I love the fact that Simon grunts along with me as I count down the last 10 seconds of his bottle being warmed in the microwave. (I finally weaned him about a month ago. I'm still a little sad about it.) I even love the fact that I have about 12 seconds to get the bottle from the microwave into Simon's mouth before he completely melts down with desire.
I love the calm brown gaze of a sleepy, slurping baby regarding me over an upturned bottle. I love the fact that he has barely swallowed the last mouthful of milk before he demands, "PEEZ!", meaning, "Mummy, could you please find my soother and insert it into my mouth post haste?" And I love the way his little eyes roll back in his head in blissful satisfaction when I finally give him the soother.
I love standing in Tristan's doorway while Simon says, "Nite-nite!" to Tristan and Beloved, as Beloved reads the first of four or five nightly books for Tristan. I love when Tristan calls back, "Nite, Simey."
I love cuddling my not-so-tiny baby in my arms as I settle into the rocking chair and turn on the CD player, playing the same gaelic lullaby CD we've played every nap and bedtime for nigh on a year or so. I love telling him the story of his day, reliving each day in broad strokes. I especially love that he has taken to nodding solemly at key points as I retell his day, reminding me yet again that he is listening attentively to every word I say.
I love the sleepy grin I get as I place Simon in his crib and tuck a blanket under his chin, stroking his cheek and telling him how I love him so, then bidding him "Nighty-night" as I close the door softly behind me. I love going into Tristan's room, leaning over Beloved stretched out beside Tristan in bed as they read yet another book together, and letting Tristan honk my nose before I kiss him goodnight. I don't know why he honks my nose, but we've been doing it every night for at least six months, and he seems to derive great joy from it.
I love walking quietly down the stairs, usually into a living room that looks like Hannibal's invading hordes had been through on a day trip, knowing that at least for a few hours, I don't need to worry about lifting the dog's water out of reach, making sure the cupboards are locked, making sure the bathroom door is closed and the front door is latched and the gates are set, and I will be able to sit on the couch for more than three minutes without hearing a crash or a holler or a plantive, "Mummy?"
And I love creeping up the stairs, on my way to bed, and peeking in on them as they sleep the sleep of angels. The minutes that I spend gazing at their sleeping faces are the highlight of every day. I treasure this time, because I know it won't last much longer.
What's your favourite time of the day?