Tonight I was giving Bailey a massage and I was thinking back to my mom giving me rubs when I was growing up. That was our time together, when she would tuck me in at night. She didn't every night, and sometimes the tuck-ins would be short, but sometimes she'd give a really long one, with lullabies and a great massage. I remember how her hands would feel, smoothing my hair off my face, and rubbing my arms and back. She had hard-working hands, and the ends of her fingers would scratch me. I never told her for fear she'd end her rub early. Sometimes I'd ask her questions about her day hoping that she'd get distracted with her answers and stay longer from talking. This was the most precious time I spent with my mom, as we had a stressful home environment for most of my upbringing, not from fault of her own, but quite trying all the same.
My mom worked hard and long, and so that time where she'd sit, sing, and be affectionate with me meant everything. My mom was raised in a home that wasn't that cuddly - and she is one of 9 children no less. During the day my mom was not cuddly with me either - oh she loved me and that I never doubted. Cuddly, no. But there was something about a tuck-in, for whatever reason that was when my mom just relaxed with me.
Once in a while, my mom still gives me tuck-ins if I am sick - and when I was pregnant. Although I am of course a full grown adult myself, I still want my mom when I want that taken-care-of feeling. I am thankful she is not yet at an age where I need to take care of her - I'm not ready to switch roles yet. It frightens me and I think back to when my mom would be sick when I was a child, and I'd cry for hours, scared. One time when I was in 4th grade her back went out, and she was laid up for months. It was terrible, I would sit at her bed and just sob. My need for her was palpable, I thought I would surely die if something happened to my mom. It truly wasn't until after I had my own children that I stopped feeling that way -- of course I would be beyond devastated if something happened to my mom, but I have to live for my own babies now, I can't fall apart.
Anyway, I have a real thing about tuck-ins, and have even received tuck-ins from good friends over the years. Thankfully Kevin's on board with my tuck in affinity and almost every night he gives me one. When I was pregnant he'd give me AWESOME tuck-ins...oh they were so great. In fact, sometimes I'll say, "you never know I could be pregnant, so you should give me a great tuck in just in case." He doesn't fall for that.
Well, my girls are following in my footsteps and they love themselves a good night-night. I sing them lullies, pray for them and rub them (sometimes my heart's truly in it and honestly, sometimes I go through the motions). And when my fingers are scratchy from dry skin, I think of my mom and her hard-working hands. I pray someday my girls will take the time to love on their own babies like that - how much busier will the world be by then?! But the time my mom spent with me tucking me in, was the best gift she gave me, and I am desperate to give my girls that same gift. It's basically a gift of softness, openness, and time. All parents make mistakes...so many. I can think of a handful of mistakes I made just today alone. But if I give this to them, perhaps they'll extend grace to me, at the memory of our time together before they fell asleep. Maybe it's how they'll know that I'm not perfect, that I fell short over and over again, but that my heart was full of love for them, and I was here.
One night, a few years ago, I was sobbing on our bed at what a failure of a mother I was. Taylor was undiagnosed at that point, and life was very difficult. I mean, the girl has polyps on her vocal cords from the years she spent screaming as an infant and toddler. Anyway, Kevin was listening to me yell and cry...and then Bailey came in. She laid her hands on me (she was 4) and said a prayer. I kissed her and probably told her she was sweet, thank you, and she left. I went back to crying and Kevin said, "how can you talk like that about what a failure you are when your 4 year old just laid hands on you and prayed?" It was probably one of the sweetest things he's ever said to me, and I have held it in my heart. I cling to it at times - when I look at their behavior, or my own behavior, and feel like a failure. I think of Kevin's words, and I think of Bailey praying for me, and I hope that no matter what happens, they learn good things from me...and so many of those good things I learned from my mom. And guess what -- she has precious memories of her own mom, rocking whoever the newest baby was (remember - NINE!!) and singing lullies. My maternal grandmother died when I was 8 I think...and we lived far away, I don't have many memories. She also had dementia before she died, and didn't even know me when she did see me. But I remember her singing us a lully about a fox...and tucking my brother and I in.
I bet you didn't think I could ever written this much about a tuck-in. I could've written more, shared more memories. I encourage you to give tuck-ins a try, if you don't yet...they are so worth the time. And like I said, they might even be a bit of damage control, a grace-extender. And maybe you'll even start GETTING some tuck-ins yourself! Take my word for it, they are so, so good.
In fact, what time is it, I could go for one right now.