Bed time is sacred in our house. Only on very rare occasions does it get messed with. My daughters are always in bed at eight o'clock. They are permitted to read or do other quiet activities until they fall asleep, but for this mama, quiet time commences at eight each night. Especially now with no more nap times, I need a couple of hours to myself at the end of the day if I'm to maintain the level of sanity I need to actually raise these children.
So it's a really big deal when I write that I raised The Oldest's bedtime. She's allowed to stay up til nine now.
Somehow, when I wasn't looking, this little girl went and grew up! She's matured, become quite responsible and dependable. She was at her real dad's house for a day this weekend, so I was taking care of her chores too, and I realized how much more it felt like I was doing. She's really, truly helpful! Not "little girl helpful" - stirring the bowl of muffin batter or haphazardly shoving her own clean clothes into drawers - but truly helpful, honestly making a difference when it comes to keeping our home neat and tidy.
She feeds the chickens and the dog, she empties the dishwasher and loads the rinsed dishes, she sorts the recycling, puts away all the laundry except Mommy and Daddy's, makes her bed and (mostly) cleans her room. At any time I can ask her to dust the living room or clean the bathroom and she'll do a great job of it. During this harvest time, when I'm in the kitchen for a couple of hours on most days, she's often in there helping me. She's peeled ten pounds of carrots in one sitting, she peeled, pitted and sliced a whole 20 pound box of peaches for canning, she dices tomatoes for the freezer.
Obviously, it's not that she does all of that every single day, but she does it as needed. And here's the kicker - She does it with a good attitude!
Okay, well, mostly. But ya know, there are times that I want to pout about washing the dishes, too. Usually she's standing next to me cheerfully going about her tasks. It's not infrequent for her to come to me and say, "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
What a blessing this little girl is to me.
And so, I raised her bedtime to nine o'clock. Staying up late is special to a little girl, and this little girl deserves it. Staying up later means you're more responsible, and this sweet girl has become amazingly responsible. It gives her a whole hour of time without her sister, time to play just what she wants without interruption. It gives us time to chat if we want to, or to sit and knit quietly together.
Seeing that my girl is growing up is killing me. I'm not ready for her to move into the "young lady" stage yet, and she's nearing it quickly. But seeing her grow up, and seeing who she is becoming, is utterly heartwarming, too.