The Bedtime Two-Step

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The Bedtime Two-Step

By Andrea Goto

Note From Senior Food Editor, Libbie Summers: Having witnessed Andrea in action as a wonderful mom, and in honor of Mother’s Day, I asked her to put her cooking attempts aside for a week (to give the fire department and her family a break) and write a small piece about motherhood. I hope you are as touched by this piece as I was. The Culinary Coward will be back in the kitchen next week attempting Paula’s Strawberry Pretzel Salad…what could possibly go wrong?

Four years ago I was lying in bed watching The Daily Show. Jon Stewart was going to be interviewing Charles Barkley after the commercial break. Just as Barkley loped across the stage and up to Stewart’s desk—before a single joke was cracked—my unborn daughter decided that she, too, would enjoy seeing the Barkley interview.

I felt a single, mind-numbing cramp, something not unlike being eviscerated.

“Ray! I think I’m going into labor!” I yelled to my husband.

Let me assure you, no one “thinks” they are going into labor. You know. Which is what I wanted to tell the doctor-on-call when he condescendingly asked, “Are you sure?” I could go into deal about the “proof” of my labor, but I will spare you the graphic details. Just know that I wanted to hurl the said proof at the doctor on the other end of the line.

Already packed for the hospital, I waited impatiently at the front door for my husband. When he didn’t come I went to the bedroom to physically remove him (oh, the Amazonian strength of a woman in labor!). There he stood, lint-rolling his backpack.

“What the hell are you doing?!”

“There’s cat hair on my backpack.”

By the grace of God, his life was spared. A mere two hours later, at 1 a.m. on February 1, Ray held our daughter, Ava, in his arms. I will never forget her Uber-Asian features, her scratched up little face and her freakishly long fingers that assured me she would someday be a successful surgeon.

That was the first blissful moment I had with my child. I didn’t experience another one for about nine months.

Today, the bliss comes at more frequent intervals. Children make sense to me. Babies do not. With each fleeting year, my love and respect for Ava deepens—sometimes it’s so thick I think I just may choke on it. She’s turned out to be nothing like I expected, and yet she’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

I’ve made some mistakes along the way. I made the near-fatal error of letting her sleep with us when she didn’t like the toddler bed. I bought her a Disney Princess doll and nearly had to foreclose on our house (you can’t have just one, and then they go and make a new version of the same damn doll, “different” only because she’s wearing blue eyeshadow instead of green. We have triplet Auroras). I let her try chocolate milk.

Usually I try to right my wrongs once they adversely affect my life. I knew it was time to get Ava out of our bed the night I woke to her lying horizontal with one big toe hooked into my underwear, the other lodged into my bellybutton.

Today, Ava sleeps in her own bed. We negotiated a deal. I’ve agreed to sit in her bedroom and work on my computer until she falls asleep. I get some much needed quiet time to check my e-mail and she gets the pleasure of my presence.

It doesn’t always work. Sometimes she announces, “Mommy, I’m having a hard time sleeping.” My help comes in the form of lying down with her. I do it reluctantly, knowing that this will undoubtedly start up some new bad habit that I will have to work up the energy to break.

But these days, I find myself telling Ava that I want to lie with her as she falls asleep.

“But don’t you have to do work on your computer?” she asks.

I assure her that it can wait. And it can. This can’t.

I drape my arm over her and I press my face into her back, just between her bird-like shoulder blades. I breathe in her shampooed hair, still damp on the ends. She’s comfortable and safe with me there. She prefers it this way.

I do too.

Andrea Goto lives and writes in Savannah, Georgia. Her kitchen experiments (known as “cooking” in more conventional homes) most often end with a mushroom cloud of smoke or a call to Poison Control. In spite of this, she’s deeply loved by her husband who prefers neon-colored cereals to all foods homemade, and her 3-year-old daughter who will eat almost anything, as long as you call it “chicken". For more info on Andrea please visit her blog at

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Reader Comments:

What great memories this story stirs.  My son is now 25 and living and working long hours in another city. He recently caught a virus and felt under the weather for a few days. He called for remedies as well as a dose of sympathy. Almost in passing, he mentioned that what he really longed for was the gentle whisper soft back scratches I used to give him to help him fall asleep as a small child. It was wonderful to know he remembered.  I suspect he’ll pass that same comforting ritual on to my grandchildren someday.

By Nancy on May 20, 2010

LOVED the story….ahhh the memories!! My baby girl is turning 19 next month….treasure those moments for time flies when you’re having fun!!
I love seeing my daughter entering her adult life, but I sure do miss my baby….Thanks for sharing some of your very personal, future golden memories.

By Momma Vee Morgan on May 07, 2010

Andrea thank you so much….I wept as well so many wonderful memories of freshly washed hair and unconditional love….I loved the Ray story as well and having to pick him up out of bed….

By Georgia on May 07, 2010

I enjoyed your story so much and plan to come back to see what you write next time. I am a Missionary here in South Africa and enjoy your recipes. God bless you and your family.

By Julia Nelson on May 07, 2010

When I was in very hard labor, my husband decided he had to at least shampoo his hair before we could go to the hospital…...I loved the story..It brought tears to my eyes…and I remember those days of coaching Jessica out of our bed into hers…now she is married with a little girl of her own…and she too had to coach her little one out of her bed also….

By Vickie Wilson on May 07, 2010

I am new to your facebook page, and this is the first article I have had the pleasure of reading. What a lovely story. I remember labor and the silly doctor/hubby questions, even though my boys are 19 and 24. Great story and such a wonderful sense of humor!!

By Tamara on May 06, 2010

Great story!  I was the one to get in bed with the kids, and I usually fell asleep first.  It was a great way to end the day.  As they got older, they came to me less and less, but at night I’d still go in and lie down for a few minutes with each.  Sometimes there was just a snuggle, and sometimes things came out that needed to be aired.  Noone went to bed with something being held back.  My daugher just turned 21, and my son is 19 1/2 (that 1/2 is so important!) and with colleges housing them, there are no nightly snuggles or confidences, but most nights there are texts!  Enjoy your children!

By Jill McGhee on May 06, 2010

priceless story of motherhood—i always wanted children but they were not in the cards for me; at least not as i had seen it—i have been given 2 beautiful children - 1. is a full blooded, arrogant, mr attitude pekingneese named oreo - he is black with a white belly
2. a beautiful rat terrier mix who did not have such a wonderful first home but now is so happy i’m afraid her tail is gonna fall off from waggin it so much - she just loves her mommy and her daddy and oreo and her food her name is Precious

By donna cox on May 06, 2010


Love the story and your husband lint rolling his back as you are going into labor is priceless!

By Tara on May 05, 2010

This was my first time reading your article. I LOVE it & I will make sure to check for a new one.

By Crystal of Columbia, SC on May 05, 2010

Andrea, I cried reading this!  I love it!  And I never get sick of hearing about Ray and his lint rolling delay!  Beautiful Girly!  smile

By Amber on May 04, 2010

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