--Prayers (in which Judah dictates what order we pray in, the positioning of our hands during the prayer, what we should pray about, etc.)
--A "combersation" (in which Judah asks me what I like about various body parts. Mommy, let's have a combersation. Mommy, what do you like about your forehead?)
--A funny lullaby (in which Judah repeats each phrase I sing in a silly voice and gets ticked off if I don't find it funny and chuckle even though we've done this exact thing 47 times already)
--Sleeping together (in which I lie next to him and we sleep for a few minutes. He usually asks to hold my hand and tells me he likes to sleep with his eyes open. And then interrogates me about my facial expression. Mommy, why you not happy? Why you not smiling? Judah demands I smile 24/7. I usually reply something about mommy being tired but inside I'm thinking--because I freaking live with the 3 year old version of Kim Jong-Il.
--Hugs and kisses (in which we hug and kiss multiple times like what I imagine Kazakhstani relatives would do in greeting)
If any of these steps are messed up or not done in exact accordance to Judah's whims of the day, a huge meltdown ensues which makes me feel awful because (a) it takes forever to get him back to a happy place and (b) the alternative is to just leave him to sleep miserable and alone.
So every night I feel like I'm carefully defusing a bomb as I try to guide Judah through his elaborate routine as quickly as possible. During the whole dance I'm pretty stressed out and all I can think about is how much I'd like to escape to freedom and finally finally have some "me" time!
And then as I chant a victory song in my head as I slip downstairs to brew some nice cozy sleepy-time tea, I feel it. The emptiness. The loss. The regret.
I realize the best part of my life is upstairs, drifting off to sleep. And I missed it. I was so focused on getting it all over with that I missed it all. I wasn't "present" during the sweetest 'combersations', the jokey songs, the snuggly hand-holding, the oh so precious--how many more of these will I get in my lifetime?--hugs and kisses.
I just missed out on the best part of my day. Again.