The cry cuts through the night, bringing me bolt upright with a pounding heart and a discerning ear at 3 AM. It's a lost pacifier, and although my legs are stiff as I crawl half under her bed to retrieve it, my heart is soft. I tuck her back in, quietly smooth her sister's covers, too.
On my way back to my room, yawning, I see it. The light is on again.
He's taken to sleeping with it on every night now, flooding his room with bright at a time when our bodies crave dark and quiet. He won't say why, really...but as soon as we leave him prayed over and kissed and tucked in snug with his nightlight, as soon as the door is closed,, up he bounds to flip the switch again. He prefers to shut his eyes with the overhead light pressing down on them these days.
I sneak in, gently turning off the switch, noticing the still-nightlight-bright room and his tiny sleeping face above the planet-covered comforter, illuminated by the string of Christmas lights he insists on leaving plugged in for good measure..
By the time I've pulled the door to and tiptoed across the hall, the light as bright as day is pouring forth again, illuminating the strip of carpet outside his door.
I pause in the hallway, resting my head against the doorframe.
I could make this into one of those defining parenting moments- one of those hills-I'm-willing-to-die-on, dig-my-heels-in-and-fight moments, the kind of moment that shows me what kind of mother I am.
And I do, because it isn't about leaving the light on.
It isn't about the lights at all.
I climb back into my bed, still seeing the chink of light streaming from under his door, knowing he's bounded out from under his covers again to keep the dark at bay with 60 watts of streaming reassurance.
It's probably ruining his sleep.
Tonight, though, it isn't ruining mine.
Five-Minute Friday is a chance to write in response to a prompt- to throw five minutes' worth of words into the air and see where they land- without worrying too much about editing or self-critique. Head over to Lisa-Jo Baker's to see what other writers said about "Choose."