Bedtime and Bravery

bedtime blues wm

“In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?”
-Robert Louis Stevenson

sleeping james..

Most summer days the boys are in bed before the sun sets.  On a day this week that included a late nap, my toddler boy was still awake and outside as day faded into night.

“Is it gettin’ dark out?” he asked.

“Yes, my love, it’s evening now.”

“Noooo!  I don’t want it to be dark!” he cried.

“James, God loves us so much that he never leaves us in the dark,” I promised in return.

He thinks about this earnestly for a moment, then looks up and locks his eyes with mine.

“Jesus loves ME!” he delighted.

“Yes, Jesus loves you.  Let’s think of all the things that God gives us at night that give us light in the darkness.”

And so we made a list:  the moon, the stars, fireflies, fire.

Summer Day 4

“Mommy, you don’t need to be scared in the dark.  I here.  I keep you company.  I brave,”  he promised.

Thank you, James.  You are very brave.”

And Jesus is brave?” He asked.

Yes, our Jesus was very, very brave.”  I said.

“Are you brave, mommy?” He asked.

“I’m brave because Jesus lives inside my heart and helps me to be brave.  Like little David when he fought Goliath?  Without Jesus, I don’t think I would be very brave.”

It’s okay, mommy, I brave, I keep you company. Me and Jesus.” 

And I marvel at my two-year old, crafted by the same hands that shaped the stars and set the fireflies in flight. I wonder if my toddler boy can see my tears in the darkening night, lit by the love-light of God’s magnificent moon.

goodnight moon

All images copyright Erin Southwell Photography


  1. Two great inspiring posts in one week! So lovely! From the mouths of babes… That first photograph looks like a painting the way it is edited, I think. Also, I love the shared bedroom with the chalkboard walls (squeals!) I have that same PB bunny lamp in my oldest’s room. I’m smitten with it! Kindred spirits, we should definitely be friends. I absolutely love that poem and Robert Louis Stevenson in general! My husband gifted me the Children’s Garden of Verses illustrated by Tasha Tudor when I was expecting our first son (I collect books with her illustrations) and I have been reading them aloud off and on; but I need to be more intentional with it because they are so easily memorized with just a few exposures to his great work!
    I want to thank you again for recommending the talks by Carole Seid, I have been binge listening to them at night and they are amazing! I was thrilled to see she will be speaking in my area in August, so I’m really hoping I can go! Thanks for sharing, it is so inspiring.

    • YES! That is the exact book- the Children’s Garden of Verses illustrated by Tasha Tudor that I was reading and that inspired the picture. I did edit it to have a painting feel since a painting inspired it. I love Tasha Tudor, I remember the first time I saw an interview with her when I was a young teenager and just being so drawn into her magical world. Do you also love illustrations by Eloise Wilkins? She is my all-time favorite and I have a big collection of her little golden books. “Baby Listens” is my favorite, I think. …So great about Carole Seid! Isn’t she wonderful? Very jealous you’ll hear her in person!

  2. Oh my goodness YES! Kindred spirits for sure. I’m obsessed with Eloise Wilkin, and collect the Little Golden books she has illustrated and a few more I’ve come across at antique stores. Her art is absolutely charming. I remember my mother reading me the books when I was a little girl too, which is even more nostalgic. When I look at her illustrations I feel like the joys of childhood, love of family, a wholesome existence, and children’s natural curiosity about nature are nearly tangible, but I’m guilty of being a bit too idealistic. 😉 Reminds me of your photography actually, which is the highest compliment I could give I think. You have inspired me so much, I am trying to learn photography, taking a couple of classes at Clickin Moms even though I had a little bit of shock at the investment…
    I have a big poster print from “Boy with a Drum” in our playroom which is soon to become a schoolroom. 🙂 I like her early American décor and am using a dining room in one of the books as my inspiration (with a bit of a modern twist) as I work toward decorating our dining area. I love “Baby Listens,” but “Evening Prayer” is my favorite and it is hard to find. It is about a little boy who is praying at bedtime. It is a tiny book about the size of the Beatrix Potter series books and just right for little boy hands. My son, Conrad loves it. Do you have it? I have two copies, and honestly I would love for you to have it as you have inspired me so much during the time I’ve read your blog. E-mail me if you would like to have it!
    Also, have you read this? I loved learning more about her as a person. Look forward to hearing more about your homeschooling and preparations for baby girl! Blessings!

  3. I have been reading your blog for several years now, Erin-your beautiful photos and heartfelt stories always give me a lift. We welcomed a little girl last May after our two sweet boys…and are looking forward to a fourth coming in December! Congrats on your growing family!! I couldn’t help but smile reading the comments about Eloise Wilkin. She is my absolute favorite children’s illustrator-the way she captures innocence and beauty and owner and awe in the everyday is magic. My mother saved several of my old Little Golden Books for me and I now read them to my children. My favorite has always been We Help Mommy. So precious. Thanks for sharing your talents with us.

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