A letter to my Son After a Bad Bedtime

I just need to write, to process life through words and to blog, I miss it and even if it’s imperfect or not tagline worth I’m going for it.

So today I’m sharing this letter I wrote last week after a particularly bad bedtime, I bet you’ve been there too. 


Dear son,

you fell asleep in the hallway tonight, laid your little body down on the cold and unforgiving wood floor in protest of something that, to you, seemed monumentally unjust.

I tripped on you a bit as I made my way down the hallway, because you’d wrapped yourself from head to toe in your quilt. You scared me, I had no idea you were in there, I was sure you’d given up and crawled into bed.

I have no idea why you chose to fall asleep this way, but I’m sure it has something to do with the protests you were yelling down the stairs to me, the ones I ignored by turning the TV up and repeatedly yelling “goodnight!”

The last thing I heard you were complaining about your sister breathing too loud, so I’m thinking your floor shenanigans had something to do with that. I never have any idea what to do with that request, by the way, people need to breathe, that slow rhythmic in and out is something to be thankful for.

It was a rough bedtime, with Dad gone and you making multiple trips down the stairs requesting a snack, a chance to give the cat a treat, some time to watch TV with me and of course the breathing complaints.

I told you the kitchen was closed, I threatened to take away screen time, but mostly… if I’m honest? I yelled at you.

I yelled because I’m weary from the burdens of adult life. These deadlines and messes and stacks that come in the mail and occupy my brain with worry and doubt.

I yelled because I was frustrated with your attitude and bedtime wandering

I yelled because my back hurts from another day of carrying your unborn sister and the thought of leaving my heating pad to level with you seemed out of my reach.

I yelled because climbing those wood stairs for the 8th time in 30 minutes seemed akin to scaling everest.

I yelled because things weren’t going my way.

And you yelled because things weren’t going your way. Then we parted for the night at odds with each other.  I hate that.

As soon as you drift off I want to climb in bed with you and whisper I’m sorry and I love you. Sometimes I do just that, tonight I did. Because buddy, this isn’t how I want to parent, this isn’t how God loves me and it isn’t how I want to love you.

I’m human, you’re human, but I’m a grown up, I can do better. You probably can too and we’ll get there but buddy? I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the yelling, for the terribly low energy and short fuse.

However, I have some really good news.

Tomorrow is another day. It’s another day for you to come down the stairs all squinty eyed telling me just how you think the day should go.

Tomorrow is another day, and this is more than just a cheap phrase, it’s the best news of your life. We were created to be together by the God of chances, do-overs, fresh white sheets of paper and frosty new fall sunrises.

You may grow up to be like me, and struggle to receive this grace, these chances. You may look around your life, your world, and see all the ways it and you could be better, do better, try harder and chose those shortcomings to convince yourself that you’re not worthy of grace.

Hopefully I grow out of this, but I know it’s in your DNA, this idealistic eye for living. It’s why we clash so often, you and I. We both see a better way with 29 years between us.

But God is just getting started with you, and he’s still hard at work within me. There is beauty all over the place and goodness just waiting be noticed, even in the tired, too much TV, flaring tempers, cheese and crackers for dinner season.

I promise a new day with you, a big hug over breakfast, and a renewed commitment to take your hand and see to understand you as we both seek to see the worth as it is and find it unspeakably enough for us.

See you in the morning buddy.

Love, Mom

How do you patch up your heart after the bad bedtimes and the nightly regrets?

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  • Natalie Hart

    I patch up my heart exactly how you do — relying on the God of fresh starts, of new every morning. And hugs. Hugs to you and your 3-year-old.

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      We will take those hugs Natalie :)

  • Lindsey Stefan

    Yes to all of this.

    I don’t know why bedtime is portrayed as the sacred, wonderful time. More often, over here in reality, it leads to someone wanting to pull their hair out. It’s a tough and beautiful lesson, though, in parenting and being the child for God. Thank goodness He is still working in each of us.

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      Amen, bedtime is sometimes precious but rarely, it’s drama over PJs and who brushes what teeth first! But grace, and God’s love for us quite often gets me through it too!

  • http://punkinhood.blogspot.com/ chrisgharmon

    I love every bit of this. Well, except for the initial reason for it, but haven’t we all been there? Thank you for sharing this letter… it’s good for my soul to read it & think through it for the rough times here as well.

  • http://simply-rea.blogspot.com Rea

    This is sweet and beautiful.
    The amount of grace I am able to extend my kids after a bad bedtime often depends on the amount of grace I’m able to extend to myself.
    Also, at some point they stop being bothered by their siblings’ breathing and start being bothered by the mere fact that they are existing in the same room. And then the sibling goes away for a few nights and the other one can NOT go to sleep until he’s turned on the humidifier that he always complains about, and his brother’s music that he always complains about, and you will be sworn to secrecy because the brother must NEVER, EVER know that his existence is necessary. In other words, bedtime gets easier in some ways, harder in others, but downright amusing at unexpected moments.