Tonight, as with most nights lately, Elizabeth and I disagreed on the fact that she needed sleep. She didn’t nap today but fifteen minutes in the car so I knew she was tired, as well as all the normal signs being there (flopping on the floor with her blankie, rubbing her eyes and nose, going to the gate to be let into her room). However, instead of relaxing and letting me rock her to sleep, she began to fight me to get up and out of my lap and back to the living room. This was my second attempt at rocking her as putting her down in her crib to put herself to sleep resulted in her a) playing a game of peek-a-boo over the railing where she giggled when I told her to lie down or b) trying to climb out of her crib if I left the room and ignored her antics. So as I held her and she began to fight again and I felt the frustration start to kick in, I felt something in me just urging, “Tell her you love her.”
So I did. I kissed her forehead and told my little girl that I loved her.
And it urged, “Tell her again.”
So I did.
“And again. Don’t stop.”
As so I just began repeating “I love you” to Elizabeth, whispering it on every breath. Breathe in. Breathe out: “I love you.” Breathe in. Breathe out: “I love you”.
At first, it was an odd experience to repeat the same phrase over and over again, but then, as I did, it literally became a breathing pattern. And, also, I saw her relax and calm. Her fighting stopped, her breathing evened out, and those little brown eyes fluttered closed bit by bit. Soon, her paci half-lolled out of her mouth in that way that tells me that she’s long gone asleep. And yet I rocked and held her and whispered, “I love you.” It was hard to stop, I found.
Finally, I kissed her one last time, rose from the rocking chair, and laid her down in her crib, tucking her in with a stroke to her hair and a last-breathed, “I love you.” And that was that.
Now, I do not see myself as having the spiritual gift of prophesying or of being one who hears God clearly and pointed all that often in my every-day life, but I believe that it was God’s voice whispering to me tonight and telling me simply to remind my daughter, over and over, that I love her. Elizabeth is 20 months old, almost two, and she is showing it all the time. She’s adventurous and fearless but also willful and melodramatic and, dare I say it, a little bit spoiled. As a stay-at-home currently, I am her primary caregiver and that includes discipline. So I’m sure, somewhere in her toddler brain, it might seem like Mum-mum doesn’t want her to do anything fun or exciting, or maybe even that I don’t love her. But I do, more than I can say and, often, all I have are those three words: I love you. So, tonight, I believe that that urging in my heart and soul was God’s reminder for me to remind her that I do indeed love her. With every moment, with every breath, with every fiber of my being.
I love you, Elizabeth.