My attention is not fully on our Evelynn Joan during the day. I admit it. I have a nearly-five-year-old girl and a prone-to-disaster-nearly-three-year-old boy. And they are in a high need time of their lives – they need help with wiping bums, cutting food, referee-ing disputes, getting dressed and pretty much everything in between, all day long. So Evelynn is simply along for the ride of the day – either in the Ergo while we run around or waiting patiently on the floor during her “bare bum time” or in her little baby swing, snoring away in the chaos.
I find myself rather wistful about her. She has to share so much of her babyhood with her brother and sister. Absolutely she has the richness of them, their love and attention to compensate for my divided focus, the busy-ness that means I only sit down when it’s time to nurse and that is okay. But I sort of miss those days of one-baby, those days of easy stroller walks just us two or quiet times to hold her close while she sleeps, just counting eyelashes in the afternoon sun, giving her all of me. Instead, she is toted here and there, strapped in and out of the carseat, grinning up at us from the floor and laughing hysterically at the ceiling fan, contented and happy, yes, but the truth is that she waits all day for me and I wait all day for her.
Because during the night, she’s all mine and I am all hers.
I can see how some could resent the nighttime parenting but I don’t – not anymore. Now that I know how quickly they go from that flour sack of contented baby sleep to long, lanky girl sleep, I can’t resent the night of loving her, holding her close, easing her to sleep.
In the evenings, when the rocking chair is creaking and she is breathing slow, I get to count the eyelashes and nurse her slow. And then in the night, when I wake up, her face is there, right before me, sound asleep. We sleep like magnets, us two, like some powerful force keeps us skin-to-skin through the night hours.
Brian swears its the favourite sight of his life, me sprawled sleeping with a babe pressed close to my breast, protective and curled around her abandoned sleep-peace.
Never mind the controversies about co-sleeping or bed-sharing or whatever you want to call it. Last night, at 3:30, we were laying together in bed, Brian snoring beside us and, in her sleep, her mouth found me and I was nourishing her body and soul in that half-space between dreams and awake. Gift. Gift. Gift. See this, this is a gift of grace from heaven.
It was a tidal wave of goodness in that half-darkness just before dawn rising in the summer morning, tree shadows dancing against the walls and her small tummy pressed against my ribs, hand cradling me close and I slid easily between sleep and awake with her blessed baby-self breathing there.
Then the morning broke and Anne was standing at the bed, blinking and tousled while Joe hollered from his room for someone to “GET ME OUTTA HERE!” The shower was going and I hit the ground running, two steps ahead of them all. Evelynn woke up, smiling, baby laughs spilling out of her like fairies, ready for another day of growing up and away.