silence laced with breath...


Last night the four of us snuggled in bed and watched the Toy Story Christmas special on TV. We sat under the heaviness of the down comforter, smooshed up against each other.Our hands all gravitated to the same place, and for a few moments there was no fidgeting, no "he's taking all the covers!" or "she's elbowing me!", no complaints about the spot they ended up with... just hand holding. I could feel all three of my favorite peoples skin at once. These are the small victories of motherhood, of life really. Connection. Touch. Love.

After the television turned off my girl asked me to snuggle her to sleep. Normally we try to give them time to wind down and hope they fall asleep on their own at this point. But they still ask often for someone to stay upstairs, or for snuggles. I said yes and her eyes danced. We snuggled together side by side in her flannel clad twin bed, flanked by countless stuffed animals. I looked across the room and caught my little guy's eye, in his own bed with his gazillion guys and books. After she fell asleep I migrated to his bed and got under the covers, his legs gravitated towards mine. 

The kids sleep so differently, it never ceases to amaze me how their personalities come out in their sleep patterns. He likes the covers up to his nose, and fidgets to sleep... but then once asleep sleeps soundly. She pushes covers off, lies still to fall asleep, and once asleep she never stops moving...

With his little body fidgeting next to mine I gazed up at the ceiling and started wondering about how many hours my husband and I have spent waiting for children to fall asleep. A lifetime. Two lifetimes. The thought and feel of my son as a tiny baby nursing to sleep came over me, and my body could feel his tininess. He would move non stop while nursing, and then all of a sudden his body would relax and sleep would overcome him. I'd use my index finger to break the latch, and a dribble of milk would decorate the side of his open mouth and cheek before it fell onto the sheets. The sheets always smelled of breast milk... 

Our children have never been "good" sleepers. My little guy spent the first year of his life being nursed and rocked to sleep... he spent only a handful of nights in his crib. My girl... oh my goodness. If we thought our son was a poor sleeper, we were so unprepared for her. She spent even less time in her crib than he did. We would rock, sway, bounce, sing, swaddle, anything to just get her to settle in for the night. There was a period of time when we literally walked her to sleep. She'd be in one of our arms, and we would pace the room, or the tiny apartment we were living in, until we could ease her into a bed - hers or ours - and then we'd cross our fingers for an hour of alone time before her next waking. 

I remember many nights, even ones not that long ago, where I felt trapped beneath a child, unable to move without waking someone. That feeling of going out of your own skin because you simply want time to yourself. During those moments of feeling suffocated, I wish I knew that it was okay to feel that. I wish I reminded myself that for every time I felt that way next to my child, my body tensing up when they moved and my voice stuck in my throat wanting to scream, there were ten others that I was able to sink in and enjoy the snuggles and cuddles and love on them. I wish I knew back then that those feelings are okay to have. To ride them out. That as a mother you're allowed to be human.

All I heard back then was how much I should enjoy every moment of motherhood. Every snuggle, every sleepless night, that I would miss them one day. Here's the thing, I miss their tininess. But I don't miss the time we spent trying to get them to sleep. At all. Relationships morph and change, and accepting them as they are is what makes magic. I still have closeness with my babies, it just looks a bit different since they are too big for me to carry in my arms for an hour as they fall asleep. 

But in the same light, I don't regret those times. Even the ones where I was jumping out of my skin. They're all part of our journey. And they're all okay. 

Last night I snuck back into my own room before he fell asleep all the way. It was late, and he has a way of ooching my rear end out of his bed. From the next room over I could hear him tossing and turning, and then all of a sudden there was silence, laced with breath...

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