When Cole’s eyes are heavy after a long day of pretending to be a knight, I get his jammie-joes on, brush his teeth, and he gives Mommy a good-night kiss and hug before I carry him in my arms down the hall to the cowboy-themed bedroom Elena designed for him. We snuggle into the lower log-cabin bunk bed and read three books—about lost penguins, monkeys toying with alligators, and dogs wearing strange hats and driving cars.
Often Cole starts snoring before I finished the first story. But sometimes he goes the distance. Either way, I turn the light out while still pinned between Cole and the wall. Even if he is already asleep, he stirs when he hears the switch and ask, “Daddy, will you stay with me for a little while?”
Holding my son as he slumbers on the bottom bunk of his bed, surrounded by big logs of raw pine, I have to force myself to leave. I allow myself twenty minutes of forgetting what I was so anxious or mad or sad about before climbing in to read bedtime stories.
In the dark I listen to Cole snore as I stare up at the bottom of the top bunk, my mind empty of any thoughts. Every night some instinct eventually tells me it’s time to get up and walk back into my life. But I return nourished just enough to make it through another twenty-four hours, until it’s time to get our jammie-joes on again and climb back into the bunk beds.
—Photo london mummy/Flickr