On Tuesday night this week I sunk under my covers in our bed. As restless as I am during the day, moving from one task to the next, I fall asleep with little preparation. I may read for a few minutes or surf on the computer right before bed. Once my head grazes the pillow, I am fast asleep. The night usually brings a deep and restful slumber unless the phone rings or my daughter decides to wake me for water, a bathroom break, or because she is scared.

We haven’t quite conquered my daughter’s fear of her own room. She tells me that the shadows watch her when she sleeps. One day she proclaimed, “It’s too creepy, Momma. I can’t sleep because I am too scared of what is in my room.” Of course, I tried to convince her that there wasn’t anything in her room or monsters don’t lurk under the bed, but this was a a futile exercise. She usually ends up in our room. On a mattress next to us on the floor.

This past Tuesday night the routine didn’t deviate from the norm. As I turned out the lights on my nightstand,  I checked on my daughter who slept near me. Her body curled up in the fetal position with her hands underneath her head. Her face spoke of a peace that very few adults experience or can remember. I smiled and fell asleep quickly.

That same night at 3:00 a.m. my daughter shot up from her blankets and yelled, “Momma.” Because I was in the middle of a deep sleep, I wasn’t sure why she was calling me. My first thought was that she wasn’t feeling well or she felt scared. To confess, irritation hit me too. In less than four hours,we would fight the morning battles of getting up, showering, and dressing for school. And the more time we lingered with this wake-up call, the harder it would become for a seamless morning. To get back to sleep, I asked her, “What’s wrong?” She responded with these three words, “I love you.”  And fell back on her pillow, asleep in seconds.

Her statement hit me. It wasn’t the most convenient time for her to proclaim her love for me. But her statement in the middle of the night taught me a lesson. That the best I love you’s come at the most inconvenient and unexpected times. And those three words mean the most when it comes in this context.

Image by steveoarnold