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The art of…. saying goodnight

A sunset over a lake

It seems so simple- we do it every day. It is a simple gesture that we take for granted. I have witnessed families who just sort of disappear at night; there are no hugs, no warm wishes, nothing. It confused me- it was just a moment, but seemingly a vital one.

I will confess to you, that I am extremely blessed. I have three children ranging in age from twenty-three to seventeen and with rare exception every single time they leave the house, rise from their beds or just sporadically each shares a warm greeting, usually accompanying a hug and kiss. I see my children act with the same respect and affection not only with me, but also my husband and any other treasured adult in their lives. It is heartwarming to see my twenty-one year old son stop what he is doing to hug his grandfather wishing him a good night as he leaves for the evening. He doesn’t just do it because it is a sign of respect. He does it with love and meaning.

I’m lucky – I know.

The other night I was reminded again that “the little things” are most important.

I was tired. Nope, not just tired, I was completely exempt. My daughter who works ungodly hours was already in bed. My younger son had gone to bed, and my middle child was standing at the sink doing dishes. For the first time that I can ever remember I simply waved to my son, and said, “Goodnight, Patrick.”  He responded in kind as I was making my way to my bed. There was no kiss, no hug… nothing. It felt awkward. I remember being half way to bed thinking, I should have hugged him.

That night- I laid in bed unsettled, I thought about the fact that I didn’t take one second, just one to properly say goodnight to my son. What was I thinking?

I have taught my children that we never go to bed angry. For those of you who live with young adults, you understand that this might be at times difficult. However, I try to live with no regrets and teach them to do the same. It seems to me that when you go to bed angry it sets the stage for too much negativity. There are stresses in raising children, in life in general, but nothing seems to be so bad that you cannot remind your children that you love them, unconditionally.

This sort of felt like that – I neglected to take the time to bridge anything that might have transpired between us. I suppose my ceremony of “good night” is sort of like a Palm Sunday tradition to me. My father has given us a tradition where you give those you love a piece of palm which has been blessed in church. You present the palm to others apologizing for anything you might have done to hurt or offend them in the previous year. It bridges any hurt and cleans the slate for your relationship to grow and flourish. A year seems like a bit too long, so I suppose in taking the time, even a moment for my “goodnights” I hope to bridge any negativity and level things out between us.

I woke up several times that night, every single time, I thought about Patrick.

Guess what? The next morning, I greeted him with a hug. When he left the house, he kissed me – we exchanged warm sentiments as I gave him a longer than usual hug.

That night- I specifically said goodnight to everyone in my home. I reminded them of my love for them and yes, I slept much better too.

It’s a simple thing, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but clearly it was for me. I am blessed that my twenty-one year old would WANT to hug me, let me not take that for granted. For me it is a symbol of love, and act of warmth that requires little effort, but has a big impact.

It’s in the little things

I wish you peace.