During 2008, my sister, Mica, was going to school for her Masters. She wanted to become a school teacher. I am not exactly sure what the assignment was, but she sent me an email and asked, "Can I get your opinion on my paper? Overview opinion, ie. what you think, just whenever you get a chance? Thanks." I read this paper, as she called it, and knew that I should hang on to it because someday I was going to share it with others. That someday is here. Enjoy! Expressing myself with love and pride for my little sister, who has grown into this amazing woman and wonderful mom. Love to you and the kids. XOXOXOXO
It's been a hectic day in “mommy land” per usual. I’m ready to put the kids to bed and have a small mental lull for the evening. But, no. We still have to go through the evening ritual of getting ready for bed. “Ho hum,” I think to myself as I get them in their p.j.’s, brush their teeth, and collect a million and one stuffed animals—all who snuggle into bed with us nightly.
A process that should take five minutes turns into a half-hour expedition as they change direction, refocus, and change direction yet again. “I really just need an “adult” moment,” I plead silently with the powers that be. I roll my eyes and patiently recollect them from their wandering imaginations. “It's off to la-la land,” I announce.
The room, dimly lit from a single standing corner lamp, beckons us in. We burrow deeply into the huge, oversized mahogany sleigh bed lined with our furry, stuffed friends. Several books lay sprawled out on the warm golden comforter. Crawling effortlessly down to reach these childhood treasures, Benjamin announces, “We’re gonna read Gold Bug, Scooby Doo, and Spiderman!” “No, no, no!” retorts Madison. “We’re gonna do Cinderella!” Again my eyes roll to the back of my head as I put an end to the mayhem that has ensued. “Rock, paper, scissors,” I announce in a pleasant but I’m-sure-tired voice. Then I wonder to myself, “Do I really have to read tonight?” The angel sitting on my shoulder laughs at me for even contemplating such a silly idea.
Nightly reading has been our routine since the beginning of time. And, yes, I do mean the beginning of time…at least their time. As far back as they can remember we’ve gone through this same exact ritual. It's like breathing. It's just simply what one does at night. There are no other options. And should there be? Isn’t this what gives them the love of reading, the groundwork for their future courtship with literature, the necessary foundation to build a strong home upon for future successes? Reading transforms us in more than one way—in the moment and for life.
“Well, maybe just tonight I can get away with a mere two books instead of a whole library. Hum, food for thought,” I think. We snuggle deeper into the cream colored sheets and the warmth overtakes me. With Benjamin on one side and Madison on the other, we’re like a caterpillar in a cocoon changing, forming into something new. The story takes us away. They listen as though they’ve never heard it before. So attentive. So loving. So relaxed.
As I continue to read they snuggle in closer. “What is it about reading that alters our being?” I wonder. For it's in this instant that I have forgotten about needing what I’ve come to call a “mommy moment,” a time away for me. It's now that my eyes have come to sit fully, squarely in their sockets and cease to roll. I thank God for this precious gift in time, as I realize that I’ll never make it back out of this bed. The joy of reading to my little ones has completely transformed us.
Then, slowly, I come to the realization that it's this ritual, which has been the same night after night since the beginning of time, their time, that I’ll intently dwell upon when I’m old and gray. Sadness fills me as a tear escapes down my warm, soft cheek and reality weighs heavily upon my heart. Some day this routine, this ritual, will cease to exist. The only thing left standing will be the foundation that was formed in my childhood, transgressed into theirs, and hopefully passed onward to the future.
By Mica Harsek