Thursday, August 19, 2010

In the Dark of the Night

The wakings don't happen as often now.  And they certainly aren't as traumatic.  But they do happen.  More than they ever have with William.

Short bursts of discomfort letting me know she needs me.

Last night she needed me five times before giving in to sleep.

I walk into her room and see her sitting there in her crib.  In the dark.

She stands up, silently, and puts her arms out.  Hold me.  So I do.

I give her water.  She gulps it down.  I foolishly think thirst was the problem this whole time.  Ten minutes later she reminds me that she's still awake in there and that thirst, it seems, was not the problem this whole time.

I pick her up again and sit down in the rocking chair.

I stare at this little girl of mine in the dark.  So content to just lay her head on my shoulder.  She twists and turns to get just so.  Wraps her arms around me.  Tucks in her little legs so that she's now just a tight ball against my stomach.

I close my eyes and try to remember if this is what it felt like when she was inside me.  It's funny how you can spend months feeling a baby spinning inside you but only fifteen months later the memory of the feeling is too far gone to conjure up.

I notice things, here in the dark, that the busy-ness of life in the daylight make too hard to discern.  How her hair ever so slightly curls under at the ends.  How long her eyelashes really are.  When did that happen?  How her legs are longer and leaner now but her bare back is still so tiny and fragile.   My one-year-old, who, by most accounts, should be considered a toddler, but is still holding on to signs that not too long ago she was just a baby.

She flips now.  Decides she wants to sit on my lap and face forward as we rock.

I see her chubby fingers hold tightly to her Jellycat bunny and I stifle a small giggle.  It's funny, to me, to see one of my children so attached to a stuffed animal.  William only ever cared about his blankie and his nukie.  But Lucy would trade in both those items if she could just hang on to her bunny for all of eternity.

She loosens her grip on Jellycat bunny now and starts to pat him.  It's the same way I pat her back when I give her a hug, as if to say, "it's ok" without saying anything at all.

We rock some more.  She picks up one of her feet and watches her draped pink blanket come with it.  She lowers it and then kicks it out again.  Watching the blanket rise and fall, rise and fall.

How easy it would be, I think, to just bring her in bed with me.  Cuddle her close and drift off to merry, merry dreamland.  But I know better.  Lucy does not like to share, least of all her bed.  Most times I'm thankful for that.  But times like this I'm a little forlorn about her dismissing the idea so quickly.

I let my head fall back against the rocking chair now and close my eyes.  How much longer?  How much longer will she need me tonight?  How much longer will she need me during the night at all?  My head wants the answer to be "not much longer" but my heart tells me it still feels good to be needed.  To be forced into this quality, quiet time alone.

I rise now and cradle her like a newborn.

"It's time to go to sleep now," I whisper.

I lay her back down in her crib and tuck her in.

"You go sleeeeeeeepy now."  She blinks at me.  Sucks her pacifier.  Eyes wide open.  I brush her bangs off her forehead and kiss those swollen cheeks that have never come down since the day she was born.

I turn to leave the room and steal one last peek just before I close the door.  She moves not an inch but watches my every move with big eyes.

We'll meet again in the dark, I'm sure of it.  Maybe later tonight.  Maybe not for another few days.

And now, now that she's moving so far away from being a baby, I'm still trying to decide if I want to complain about it or just relinquish the effort it takes to complain about it and learn to cherish it.  I know these midnight dates are numbered.  Midnight dates with me and my restless sleeper.

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