We begin our nights the same way. Every night. You and me.
You squirm and wiggle the entire way through the pajama and diaper change. We get cozy in our chair with a book, and I begin to attempt to read. It usually lasts no longer than 20 seconds, as your only aspiration is the timely and utter destruction of the book in hand. I put it down and try not to get frustrated. You’re a baby and you’ll get there. I know.
We get up to turn off the light and turn on the white noise. The calm and tranquility blankets itself over your room once again, and we return to our chair. This time you nuzzle up close and let momma’s milk fill you up one last time. You’re quite the busy eater. Pinching, kneading, and tugging at any inch of my skin you can find. I’d be lying if I said it’s enjoyable, but I know its how you soothe yourself and I take my mind elsewhere.
It’s when you’ve dried up the last drop that the real work begins. Unlike your sister who used to let me rock her for as long as I desired, once your meal is through, you insist on me standing and bouncing back and forth with you. There is no comforting swaying in the chair. Not for you, sweet boy. Maybe you’re just trying to help me avoid that kink I used to get in my neck with your sister from falling asleep slumped over holding her in the chair. Or maybe you’re just doing your part to help me reach my weight loss goals. With my feet shoulder width apart, your head resting in my arm, and your bottom cradled in my hand – we begin our bed time dance.
I’ve done this so many times with you that over time I started to count each sway every night. Like a way of letting me know how long I’ve been bouncing. Otherwise it can feel like time stands still in that room as I stare at the same books on your shelf, and the familiar pictures hanging on your walls. Each sway gets a count. Will it be a 60 count night? Or a 150 count night?
I begin to take inventory of our day together. What we did, what you enjoyed, where you struggled, and what I think you may enjoy tomorrow. Often times you’re happiest when you’re playing independently. You love to explore the playroom, taking great care in analyzing every toy and how it works. Oh, do I love watching you explore. You’re pulling up on everything and love to scale across furniture; maybe tomorrow I’ll bring up the little stand and push dinosaur your sister learned to walk with. Because let’s try and make you even more mobile..?
You’re still trying to grab at my hair and smack at my chest. I start to get a little restless on the inside. My mind jumps to everything left I need to do before I can lay my head down too. Dishes need to be loaded in the dishwasher. A load of laundry needs to make its way to the dryer. Get the dogs some more water. Close the blinds and lock up. Find sister’s sippy hiding in the playroom. That thing had milk in it. Grab a cookie as I head up. Aaaannnnd maybe a glass of wine to wash it down with. Close those eyes sweet boy, I’ve got things to do and my legs are burning.
You’re beginning to look mighty drowsy now. Your blinks are starting to linger around awhile longer, and your busy hands have calmed. Everyone who has sleep advice to offer would insert the [this is where you lay him down] here. I know. I’m supposed to lay you down now so you continue to soothe yourself to sleep. We’ve done that before. A few months back we had to; it helped us go from waking every hour or two to only once a night. I know what I’m supposed to do. Just twenty more sways. I’ll lay you down at 80. Twenty more and then I’ll go.
You’re intoxicating and my feet are encased in cement. I can’t leave you. I’m too busy studying your face and admiring your eyelashes. I stare intently and wait for the little sleep smile you sometimes do. The queen of Motherhood Irony sure has a sense of humor. Plus, your tiny fingers are wrapped snuggly around my shirt collar ensuring I won’t leave you without you knowing about it. I can’t leave you. Not just yet.
Because your sister used to always let me hold her and cuddle her, I felt like she could feel how much I loved her. Like it was somehow transferred through my skin into hers, and my love would be injected directly into her bloodstream. She could feel it. You’re a busy one, though, sweet boy. Calm cuddles are nearly nonexistent. Its in this moment while you are now fast asleep (and my legs no longer feel like they belong to me), that I am overcome with a burning obligation to tell you how much I love you. I need to say out loud all the promises I will continue to make to you. How heavy my love for you is to carry because there’s just. so. much. of. it. Thinking it isn’t enough. I have to tell you. I whisper ever so softly, and I imagine my words floating with feather-like delicacy into your ears. The unicorn and rainbows part of my brain tells me that my words will float directly into your head and integrate themselves into your dreams. If I whisper it all out loud, I’ll be able to sleep peacefully knowing your dreams will be filled of nothing but all the warmth my love can bring you. Sweet boy, I love you so.
Its time for me to go now, and I give you one last gentle kiss on the forehead. Soft enough so I don’t dare wake you, but firm nonetheless…. just in case some more of my love transfers that way too….
Good night, sweet boy.