Jackie VanCampen
Gifts Wrapped in Chaos
Posted October 18, 2011 by Jackie VanCampen in Family & Home
Bedtime at my house can, at times, feel like a prison sentence. It’s always the same rushing around – feeding the kids some snack (15 minutes after they had dinner AND dessert), getting them to brush their teeth, reading a bedtime story, and the latest, ballet recitals.

I feel like I go into a time vortex – every minute counts! My three year old has recently decided to add a ballet repertoire to the bedtime routine. I have to sing ballet-type songs (whatever that means) while she twirls and points her toes and leaps like a true, professional prima ballerina. As fun as it is to watch her dance, there’s a part of me screaming for her to just get into bed and go to sleep already!

During my childhood, going to bed meant, I read a story, had a glass of milk, brushed my teeth, and went to bed and didn’t make a peep. No, water after the lights were out was definitely not allowed! Now I feel like I have been hijacked by my children. That would’ve never happened with my parents!

One day while driving home from work, I set an intention that all I wanted was a quiet, peaceful evening. I really just wanted to take some time to sit and meditate. In reality it was more like wishful thinking. I knew very well what was ahead of me.

We started the nightly routine, just like many nights before, where I had to come up with some Disney princess songs that I probably only knew one verse, battle the dragon that spat fire and had Princess Isabella stuck in the highest tower of the highest castle in all of Dragonland, sing every children’s song Barney has ever done a cover, sing itsy bitsy spider really fast while going up and down her back, and then sing it slow, and then when I thought I had exhausted all possible forms of entertainment and I could now kiss her good night and start to leave, I heard the inevitable whine, “I want my mommy!”

By this point I can feel my blood pressure rising and my blood boiling. I’m approaching the red zone. I take a few deep breaths and start telling her how I still need to help her older sister with her homework, how her other sister needs her to go to sleep, so she can go to sleep (they share a room and Jazzy usually can’t go to bed until Izzy is asleep otherwise all Izzy wants to do is talk), how I still have to take a shower, all to no avail. She cries and I feel like I too want to cry. So I give in and I sit in her toddler bed.

Suddenly there’s silence and in that silence the dark clouds in my mind open up to reveal the sun of wisdom and that’s when I get my AHA moment – the intention I had set for quiet and peace had been granted, but I was too busy with my mental chatter to notice the gift. When I finally became present in the moment, I realized that some gifts come wrapped in obscure ways and it takes one really being in the now to notice them. I sat there and basked in the silence and quietude of her room. I was probably in there for ten minutes and I actually got to do a short meditation.

I then noticed that she had finally fallen asleep. I got up, thanked her for being the bearer of that wonderful gift, kissed her good night, and walked out of her room feeling refreshed.

Moral of the story – be present to the gifts life is bringing you. It doesn’t always manifest in a logical kind of way, but if we are really aware, we will notice the gift even in the midst of chaos.

Do I still get triggered during bedtime? Of course! But I can always choose to shift my perspective and see the gifts and lessons each moment can bring.