When my children were babies and toddlers, the last thing I did every night before going to bed was check on them. If I couldn’t hear them breathing or see the rise and fall of their chests, I’d place my hand on their back to make sure they were still breathing. As they got older, probably until they hit puberty, checking on them last thing before I went to bed was still my nightly ritual. If they were out for some activity in their teens and college years, I could not go to bed until they came home…though I did sometimes fall asleep on the couch. It was disconcerting when they got old enough to stay up later than I did. I missed that settled feeling of knowing everyone was “tucked in” before I went to sleep. That feeling was magnified as they started going away from home for longer periods, to camp or missions trips or to work somewhere for the summer, and then as I began to think of their leaving home to establish their own. But I reminded myself that they were in God’s care.
This poem arose out of that experience. I wrote it almost two years ago and sent to my friends Bet, who teaches college journalism classes, and Ann, who teaches high school English, for their critiques. Thank you both for your invaluable comments! I put it away for a while in order to come back to it later and hopefully think more clearly about it, and just got it out again several days ago. It’s still not perfect, but it’s better than it was, thanks to Ann and Bet’s suggestions.
I debated about putting it on my blog. because once it is on the Internet it’s in danger of being kidnapped. On the other hand, people don’t write poetry to keep it in a book: I hope it ministers to others’ hearts as it did my own. I would just remind people that it is copyrighted and ask that if you use it, please include my name and preferably a link back here.
A Mother’s Nightly Ritual
Before a mother goes to bed
She checks each little downy head,
Places a hand on back or chest
Of each sleeping child at rest,
Making sure that all is well
Before succumbing to sleep’s spell.
As children grow and youth abounds,
Yet Mother still must make her rounds.
She can not rest at ease until
Her little ones are calm and still,
Safely tucked into their beds,
Then softly to her own she treads.
From childhood into youth they grow,
And she waits up until she knows
They’re settled safe and sound at home
Til the next day when they roam.
Though now they stay up long past her,
She can’t rest til they’re home, secure.
Her birds fly later from her sight.
Their beds are empty now at night.
She cannot check the rise and fall
Of sleeping breaths within her walls.
Yet she trusts they’re safely kept
By Him who never once has slept.
Though now they sleep beyond her care,
They never move beyond her prayer.
Her nightly vigil now is to
Trust them to the same One Who
Watched o’er Jacob while he roamed,
And kept him safe though far from home.
Mother’s Little Angel
by Norman Rockwell
Courtesy of imagekind