It’s a simple thing. A simple request. But it’s bedtime. And there are a zillion requests.
We always do the same things at bedtime. We do jammies and teeth brushing and bedtime stories. Then we head to their room and sing songs (whatever is requested that night – usually anything from “I’m a little teapot” to “Edelweiss” or “Amazing Grace”). And then Sam and I each take a turn praying over the kids individually, listening to their prayers, and then tucking them in and kissing them goodnight.
Which all sounds sweet. And sometimes it goes off without a hitch. Sometimes it’s hilarious. Tonight, for instance, one of my children told God all about their boogers. And there were endless giggles when Daddy changed the words of “I’m a little teapot” to “I’m a little sneeze pot.”
But some nights, it’s so exhausting. And we’re just already so spent from the way the day has gone that we just want to check all our boxes and peace on out of there. I love my kids. But some nights by around 7:30 I am just at the end of what I have to give. The very end. And it always seems to be those nights that they woke up the baby on the way up the stairs and so one of us has gone in to calm him down and the other tries desperately to corral the older two who think jumping and running and shoving is suddenly necessary. Or they need drinks. Or they suddenly remember that they need chap stick or lotion or tissues, or that they left one of their beloved stuffed animals downstairs, or they’ve noticed that the pajamas that they’ve worn at least weekly for the past YEAR have a tag in them that’s now SO ITCHY they can’t possibly sleep in them!! . . . I’m telling you, I have heard it ALL. Bedtime is the great exposer of all sudden-emergency needs.
Someone please tell me this isn’t just at our house, right?!
Gah. Bedtime. Such sweetness and frustration all mixed together in an impossible jumble of “please, please just go to sleep. Please. I love you dearly. Please sleep. Please, please, please.”
And somewhere in the midst of it all, when we’re trying so hard to just be gracious and patient and yet we’re just so exhausted and want to get them tucked in so that we can, finally, for the first time since 6 am get just a few minutes of space from EVERYone and EVERYthing. . . Clara asks for a “knee step.”
She used to call it a “knee test.” Which made no sense at all. It has nothing to do with a test. And I have no idea where that even came from. But what she wants is for her daddy or me to kneel next to her bed with one knee on the ground and the other extended in front of us, foot flat on the ground to effectively make a 90 degree angle so that she can hold our hand and step on our leg/knee as she climbs her way into her bed.
She’s perfectly capable of climbing into her bed on her own. She does it to get her animals or her baby dolls in and out of there during the day, unassisted. I know she has the skill set required to do it. And yet, every night, without fail:
“Can I have a knee step?”
It is so very humbling to me, as a mom. This simple knee step.
“Mom, will you do this thing? Will you still, in all your tiredness and frustration, kneel down on the floor for me? Help me even though I don’t really NEED it? Am I important enough to you for this? Have I tried your patience too much tonight?”
I don’t really know why it’s THIS thing. Out of all the mommy-ing tasks that I do all day, it’s this one that strikes me every night. It’s this last request of the day. This thing that she wants when I’m at the end of myself, when I have no more to give. And yet, every time, every night for months now, the Holy Spirit tugs on my heart when I look at her eager face and hear those words:
“Can I have a knee step?”
And every night, kneeling there on my kids’ floor, amidst the toys and the shredded tissues and crumpled stickers suddenly feels like a holy moment. And I know, deep down, and for perhaps the first time in the midst of what has usually been an exhaustingly full day, that this is what serving the Lord looks like at this time in my life. At this full-time stay-at-home barely-showered, baby on my hip, dinner-cooking, band-aid giving, errand-running, crayon-coloring mommy stage.
I serve Him by serving them. In bending my knee for my daughter to climb on, I’m bending my knee to my creator. Submitting my will to His. And I may not get it all right. There are days when I’m distracted, days when I’m selfish, days when I’m just plain overwhelmed. Days where we’re sick and we watch Thomas the Train for a ridiculous number of hours. Days when I nail it and we do school and science projects and take a walk in the fresh air and eat freshly baked bread for snack and I feel like I’m rocking this mom thing. Days when I feel completely fulfilled and days when I feel like I’ve completely lost myself – or completely lost my mind.
But somehow the knee step, this simple, day’s end way of serving my daughter, shifts my perspective regardless of how the rest of the day has gone. And so, every night, I kneel down beside her bed and grab her hand – tuning my heart to His as I do.
“Sure, peanut. You can have a knee step.”
“I love you mommy.”
“I love you too.”