That’s when all their truths come out…That’s when she tells me about the little girl in her class whom everyone teases and she asks me why girls can be so cruel. I tell her that sometimes when little girls are hurting inside, they don’t know what to do with the pain they’re feeling so sometimes they lash out. She says that the next day she’ll ask the little girl whom everyone teases if she wants to jump rope together at recess. I tell her what a beautiful gesture that would be and tell her I’m proud to be her mother.
He tells me that I was right and that he should have studied more for his test, because it was much harder than he expected.I tell him I’m proud of him for being so honest with himself and with me and that next time he’ll do better. Their little brother tells me that he cried in kindergarten because he missed me. I tell him I missed him too but that I knew that he’d be coming back home to me, so that kept me going all day. He gives me a heart-melting hug, says “I love you, Ema”, closes his eyes and drifts off to sleep.
In the still of the night, I hear about what made their day great or what made it more difficult. I hear about the things that made them laugh, get angry or cry. And I share the events of my day with them, too…A kind of give and take. just the two of us, in the darkness…
Somehow when they come home from school, all they want to do is have their snacks, do their homework and watch a couple of shows to unwind. They’re not in the head space to really share much about their day.
But in the still of the night, when they’re in their pajamas, all cozy and tucked away in their beds, after having said the Shma, that’s when I hear the famous line every night from each one of them: “Ema, come lay down with me, please” and I always do, child by child, because I already know how much value can be found in those 10 minutes, in the still of the night.
Until this day, I remember a Rabbi’s wife once sharing with a group of young women, that she always spent time with her kids in the still of the night, whether it was laying down next them when they were small or sitting at the edge of their beds when they were older. She told us that at her son’s Sheva Brachot. his new wife approached her new mother in law and said “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for raising such a kind and attentive man. His listening and conversation skills are just two of the many wonderful qualities I love about him”.
And then I think about the groundwork I want to lay as their mother…I want them to feel RIGHT NOW, when they’re still little, that I’ll never turn my back on them when they need me. I want them to know that even if one day, G-d forbid, they have something painful or difficult to share with me, that I’ll be there to listen and to support them every step of the way. I want them to know that I’ll always have their backs, no matter what. And by being with them with no distractions and holding a safe space for them to share, in the still of the night, I pray that they’ll know.