A Look Back: Bedtime, Elizabeth-style

shutterstock_161645759By Mary White, La Leche League International

Originally published in July/August 1979 La Leche League News

Editor’s Note: The first issue of La Leche League News, the bimonthly publication for members, was published in 1958. The name changed to New Beginnings in 1985. New Beginnings continued to publish until 2014 when it switched to its current blog format at www.lllusa.org/blog/.

How do you get a baby to sleep? Nurse her, of course. How do you get a toddler to sleep? Nurse her, of course, after her bath and a story and a nice juicy apple to munch on. And how do you get a three-year-old to sleep? Just reread the preceding sentence.

But gradually the snack and the story take on more importance, and the nursing is just a nip and a hug…and sooner than you think it’s just lights out, a hug and a kiss, and she’s off to sleep.

Elizabeth is seven. Summer evenings are long, and often spent outside with one last bike ride or a chat with a friend. No school schedules to watch. We all lose track of time. But pretty soon it’s “Come on, Mom, let’s go to bed.” “Okay,” says I, “run up and take your shower while I knit one more row.” (I’m a slow knitter!)…Down she comes, long braids dripping, face and feet shiny clean, and skinny nightie in between. I fold up the knitting, and up we go, together as we always have, Elizabeth leading the way, and finding the place in our current book. Tonight it’s Little Women, and we both love it. I haven’t read it in a long time and Elizabeth has never heard it before. We prop up the pillows, climb into her bed, and I read…and read…and read…(such long chapters!), until I find my eyes won’t stay open and the words come out all wrong. Elizabeth gives me a nudge and a funny look. Oh, well, time to stop. Lights out, prayers together, a hug and a kiss. Most nights I stay a few more minutes as she falls asleep. Sometimes I fall asleep, too, and wake with a jump when a head comes poking around the door, “Mother? Telephone.”

Later a storm blows up, lots of thunder and lightning, and rain gusting in the open window. But Elizabeth sleeps soundly on until morning. Elizabeth is almost eight.