As I lifted you from your crib, you immediately nuzzled your head into my neck. It fit perfectly in the space between my shoulder and chin, as if it was always meant to be there. Your crying ceased within seconds, because I was all you wanted.
I gently slouched into that glider thinking I would rock you to sleep tonight, a rarity for my wonderful sleeper. There’s usually never a need, and me trying would get you off your rather rigid schedule, which is something we definitely all want to avoid. So I held you close, soaking in the feeling of your heart beating against mine. The feeling of your relaxed, slowing breath against my skin. The feeling of the twitches your body made as it considered surrendering, allowing you to drift off in my arms.
But then you got distracted. You were weary, no doubt, yet you were soaking up these unusually serene moments with me, too. Your head popped up, your eyes locked with mine as the last bit of the day’s light peeked through the space where the curtains weren’t quite overlapped. And that precious, toothy grin of yours let me know that sleeping may have been farther off than we’d both thought.
Your tiny but ever-growing hands reached up for my face. You placed one on each cheek, pinching and twisting a bit as you held on, not yet knowing your own strength. Then you came in for a kiss. You’ve been learning how to give kisses lately, but the combination of your exhaustion with the increasing darkness interfered with your aim. Your mouth gently encircled my nose, and you quickly pulled back, both of us giggling at the blunder. So you did it again, several times, clearly looking for laughs and evading the rest that your body was craving.
You rested your head on my chest once again, reminding me that getting you to sleep was indeed the goal. I gingerly stood up from the chair, and immediately the tears returned. You knew what it meant; you knew that I’d soon have to lay you down, that the snuggles and giggles and late night bonding were coming to an end.
I set you in your crib, and all the calm that my presence had once brought dissipated as you rolled onto your belly and the screams resumed. So I stayed. I wasn’t about to leave you a blubbering mess. I hunched over on the floor beside your crib, placing my hand between the slats and gently resting it on the mattress. At first you were too upset to recognize that I was still there, but suddenly, you sensed me. You knew I hadn’t left. Your head lifted, your eyes fixed upon my hand near your face.
So you placed your little hand atop my own. Then you wrapped your stubby fingers around one of mine, holding on with all of your weakening might. We stayed that way for a while, your hand gripping mine, but that wasn’t quite close enough for you. You burrowed into me, grasping my hand with both of yours, softly whimpering as you settled your cheek upon my palm. Not whimpers of sadness, but ones of contentment. The sweetest sound.
The closeness consumed you. You knew you were safe and secure, and you were certain that, no matter what, I would be there for you. I wouldn’t abandon you in a time of need, leaving you to weep alone in the dead of night. Your eyelids flittered, peace engulfed your overtired body, and you fell asleep.
I will forever cherish that night, the memory now seared into my mind. Because, in those precious moments with you, I was all you wanted. You wanted to see my face and feel my skin. You wanted to hear my voice and smell my faded perfume. All you needed, all that it took to calm you, was me.
And I know that one day, all too soon, I won’t be the woman that you want. It sounds utterly depressing, but I know that it’s the way things are supposed to be. It’s the transition that’s meant to take place, the progression that’s only natural and beautiful.
But I have something that the passage of time can’t steal from me: I have these memories with you. So I will hold on for dear life to these moments of your youth in which you let me know that I’m all you really want and need. And one day, years from now, I won’t have to shed tears over you finding a new woman to accompany you through those dark nights. Instead, I can lovingly pass the torch on to her, entrusting her with one of the most precious gifts of my life.
Then I’ll sit back and remind myself that once upon a time, long, long ago, I was all you wanted. And, oh, what a magical time that was.
(Featured Image PC :: Krystal Weir Photography)