Peeking on Henry

I sneak and peek in on my sleeping kids almost every night before I go to bed. I just want to check on them. Matt says it’s silly. “We have monitors in their rooms. Just look on the screen.” Well, the screens don’t show their little chests rising and falling with breath, so sorry babe. I gotta check.

Tonight my sneak peek must have woke Henry. First he stirred. Than he started mumbling. Then before I knew it he was outright screaming. “Mama! Mama! I want you! I don’t want it go bed! MAMA!”

This mama needs rest. The holidays are stressful enough as it is, but with beloved family members in health turmoil and my own mental health being off-kilter, things are especially hard right now. Never mind the fact that the sun rarely shows its face here this time of year. I’m not my best self right now.

I waited patiently for him to tire out and go back to sleep. I pleaded quietly to the gods of sleeping children for him to lay back down. I hoped beyond hope that I might be able to go to my own bed and rest and not have to coax him back to sleep.

No dice.

He just kept on crying.

Fine.

Ugh.

With plaintive resignation, I grabbed my water bottle and shuffled into Henry’s room to calm him down. He practically leapt into my arms and held on so tight – I was reminded of primate babies clinging to their mothers at the zoo. He wrapped his long limbs around my waist and neck, buried his wet face into my shoulder, and immediately quieted down. I sat in the chair with him, and as I rocked I couldn’t help but think about how long this might last. Not tonight. Obviously tonight will never end and I’ll die in this chair a beleaguered old woman still rocking an awake child. But this time – this part of my son’s life where he needs me to hold him and he loves to sit in my lap and nuzzle me and give me kisses and use my breasts for pillows as he is calmed by the beating of my heart. This time when I can smooch the top of his head and sing him soft soothing melodies that my mother sang over me. I look to my own mother and her own son and I know that this time is fleeting.

Let me tell you: if I walked in on my brother snuggling my mom while she sang and played with his hair and his head was on her chest, I would probably be a little shocked. It’s not going to happen, right? But I bet my mom just might long for the days when he would. I bet the decades between then and now have gone by in a flash, and now she wonders where that little blonde boy went.

So tonight I’m rocking and snuggling with a little less resentment towards the gorgeous child who isn’t letting me sleep. I’m trying to soak it in. To carpe the diem and all that. I want to remember the smell of his hair. I want to memorize the feel of his soft hands and warm cheeks. I want to always remember the way it feels to have a contented child resting on me. I bet in thirty years he won’t let me rock him anymore. I need to soak it in while I can.

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