I love bedtime with my kids. Some nights are crazier than others, but usually it’s the time when everything slows down, the house goes quiet and dark, and my children open up their hearts to me. It’s starts with a few simple questions and ends with us feeling connected, heard, and inspired. I wrote a free e-book all about it, with the same questions we use to help you start this wonderful tradition in your home. You can download it by clicking here.
Ending our days well has been an important part of our parenting, but the significance of how we start the day has hit home in a new way, recently.
Three weeks ago I woke up heartbroken that our country made a decision that effectively told people who look like my children that they aren’t valuable. That those with more melanin in their skin don’t matter as much as those with less. That people who come here from other countries really aren’t all that welcome. That a woman’s worth is dependent on what she looks like and what she can give a man. That people with disabilities can be openly mocked without consequence. These views that have been held for centuries were validated by about half the voters in this country.
I didn’t want to send my children to school. I didn’t want them to face the world. I wanted to keep them home – safe and sound and insulated. But since I can’t do that, I had a few words to share with each of them before I sent them out the front door.
I knelt in front of my son and framed his face with my hands. “Mareto. I need to tell you something important.” I looked him straight in the eyes.
“You are kind.
You are beautiful.
You are smart.
You are important.
You are creative.
You are a good friend.
His response was sweet and simple, “Okay Mommy.”
He walked out the front door as a lump settled into my throat. I watched and waved as the car pulled out of the neighborhood. I finished breakfast, gathered up my things, and buckled Arsema into the car. On the way to school we listened to Christmas music. As I tried to drop her off with her class she wrapped her arms around my leg, not wanting me to leave. I stooped to pick her up into my arms and touched my nose to hers.
“You are valuable.
You have good ideas.
You are so good at loving others.
You are beautiful.
You are smart.
You are so fun.
She giggled and hugged me tightly before skipping off to join her friends on the playground.
On the drive home I stopped at a red light behind a blue pick up truck with a large confederate flag waving off the back, proudly celebrating a heritage of white supremacy. I sighed deeply – in frustration and sadness and disappointment. I returned home to try and get some work done before a meeting. I opened my computer to find an onslaught of messages calling my family gross and disgusting, my children monkeys and ni**ers, my husband and I race-traitors, and a slew of thinly veiled and not so thinly veiled threats against us. I wept at the kitchen table – in grief and frustration and anger.
Over the course of next several days I watched videos and read reports of hate crimes spiking all over the country and you would think that it would be easy to find relief in the tender young ages of my children. That I would perhaps find comfort thinking that they are too young to experience the atrocity of racism and xenophobia. But these crimes against humanity know no age or bounds as we have seen in the multiple reports of young children of color being physically attacked before, during, and after school by their peers. I cannot rely on youth to protect my children.
How I send my children off into the world each day is of paramount importance to me. Because hate has found a platform and hate has been emboldened and incited and in many case validated. I want to fill their ears and hearts with truth so that they can recognize the lie when they hear it.
The world will tell them at some point that they are ugly but I will have already told them a thousand times that they are beautiful.
The world might tell them that they are unwanted or unimportant but I will have already reinforced to them that they are valuable.
People filled with hate will tell them they are animals but I have already fortified their hearts with the truth that they are kind and loving and creative and smart.
The world might tell them they don’t matter – but I will tell them every single day that they do matter. I will continue to tell them that they are here to do important work that only they can do. That loving God and loving others is the most important thing we can ever do. And maybe, just maybe their flame will light another and another and another. Truth and love will shine brighter than the lies and hate that live in the darkness.
My kids spend so much of their day out in the world taking in whatever messages are thrown at them. But I get to bookend their days with love. I start each day with speaking truth into them and reminding them of who they are, and we end each day with a supportive ear ready to listen to their hearts. When I feel helpless I am reminded of the magnitude of this responsibility and the power of love.
Click below to download my free e-book, 3 Things To Ask Your Children At The End Of The Day.