So far this week has been a whirlwind of stress and panic, as I am having a garage sale this weekend, I overbooked myself for the whole week, and my 14 month old has been in a whiny, tantrum-throwing, molar-teething mess of a mood. I'm desperate to finish even one thing this week, but I have yet to complete any single task. [Although I've let go of my official to-do list as I talked about here, I must still be practical about taking care of my home sometimes. Bummer.]
It's 11:00 at night about one day away from the garage sale, and I'm sorting through totes of clothes to see what I might sell. I've got them strewn across the living room floor so I can see them in their piles when I hear the familiar buzz of the baby monitor followed by staccato, and then drawn-out cries. There she is.
I sigh to myself and wait a minute to see if she falls back to sleep on her own. Sometimes she does. Not this time. I throw my head back, looking at the ceiling as if to will her back to sleep, and when my effort fails, my head falls forward and I stand.
I tip-toe through her room and approach the side of her crib as if my hushed footprints will lull her back to dreamland. This time she's standing with her eyes still closed, and it's apparent to me that she's still in a slight state of slumber. She somehow senses I'm there, shuffles over, and instantly climbs up into my arms and attaches herself to me--her tiny curled fingers resting on my shoulder, her other arm stretched around my side and gripping my back, her legs wrapped around my waist, and her nose nuzzled into the crook of my neck. She exhales.
After lowering myself into the rocking chair and doing my best not to disturb her, I finally relax into the cushioned wood and develop a rhythm of rocking.
And it occurs to me: I am her place. At the exact moment of contact, she let go of whatever upset her, and she was filled with peace. Asleep again in my arms, she melted into me. Just as my mother is comfort, and my husband is safety--I am to her. I am her place.
I rocked her like that for a long time. It was not for her; for she was fast asleep. It was for me.
Reluctantly, slowly, I raise myself to stand. I glide across the room to her crib and gently lay her onto her mattress.
Thank you, God. I nearly took this time for granted. I nearly let myself forget that these days are limited. I don't know when the next time will be that she will sleep on me so soundly, and I don't know when it will be the last. Thank you for reminding me.
Someday if Nick and I are old and gray, she may be my place. She may be my comfort, and she may wrap those same sweet arms around me and nuzzle me and hold me until I fall asleep.