When Darkness Falls

I could feel the shift in her emotions from the moment the sun began to set.  Curled up in my lap on her old rocking chair in the guest room, we slowly moved back and forth while watching shades of pink and red envelop the sky.


She seemed to make herself just a little bit smaller with each passing moment.  We breathed in unison, heart to heart, as silence filled the room.


“I feel small tonight, Mommy.”


I stroked my fingers through her sun-kissed chestnut brown hair as we watched a seagull make its way toward the beach.


“I know, sweet girl.  You haven’t been yourself tonight.”


As darkness crept into the room, she heaved a great big sigh.  With eyes half closed she nuzzled into my chest, just as she had done as an infant.


“Let’s get you to bed, sweet girl.  You seem tired and it’s getting late.”


I scooped her up, the five-year-old weight of her heavy in my arms, and gently placed her upon her lavender polka dot duvet.  I settled onto the floor beside her bed to tell her a relaxing story, but, before I could get a word out, I heard a noise.


She was sobbing, my sweet baby girl.  With tears streaming down her face, loud hiccupping sobs (the kind held in for far too long) escaped her throat, one after another.


Without a thought I jumped up and crawled into her bed.  Wrapping her in my arms, I kissed her forehead over and over again.


“What is it, sweet girl?  What’s making you feel so sad today?”


She buried her head in my chest, letting the last of her sadness out…

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About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)