“Will you lay with me for a few minutes, Mama?” My daughter’s big hazel eyes implore me, and I resist the urge to sigh. There’s laundry that needs to be folded. I haven’t packed the lunches for tomorrow. After a restless night of sleep and a manic Monday at work, I want to be a task master and knock out all of the to do’s before crawling into bed, exhausted.
But she’s not giving up, so I snuggle in and begin to count down the minutes until she starts to snore.
“Will you pat my bottom, Mama?” This request makes me chuckle. When she was a baby, my mother in law and I would both do this to get her to sleep. She hasn’t asked for this in… well, come to think of it, I can’t think of the last time.
As I begin to soothe her to sleep, I think of all the other ways she grown and changed from that baby girl to the almost four year old in front of me. Four years – how is that possible? Wasn’t I just struggling to nurse and feeling completely overwhelmed? Those days are long gone, though. It’s all a haze now; time has a way of softening things.
What it doesn’t soften, though, is the sweet smell of newborn baby when I would rock her at night. I’d bury my nose in her shoulder, just relishing in the fact that she was here and she was my girl. Or the sound of her first coo – I was so thrilled to hear that little voice! And how many times did I watch her crawl after the cat and dog, laughing hysterically as they bolted in fear of her tiny grip?
She doesn’t do any of that anymore. She still smells, but now it’s usually of dirt from the playground or Peppa Pig bubblegum soap after a bath. She talks constantly now (which I’ll readily admit she came by honestly). I’m more concerned when I hear silence from her room than anything else. And now her daily chore is to feed those same pets terrorized; she makes her own little version of a whistle and they come running towards her rather than away from her. Time has changed, well, everything.
She is starting to breathe more slowly, and I know it won’t be long until she’s dreaming. It also won’t be long until she doesn’t need me to do this anymore, and won’t beg me to stay just five more minutes. She reminds me constantly what a big girl she is, and her independence shines bright. How many more times will I get to soothe her to sleep like this? I have a feeling it would break my heart a bit if I knew the answer.
She’s snoring now, and it’s way past the time where I could safely escape. But I stay. Towels will always be there, and lunches can be thrown together in the morning. This may be the one shot I get at this motherhood thing, and I want to truly enjoy the quiet moments of her needing, no, wanting me to lay by her side.
So I lay beside her, sniffing her head, thinking quietly to myself how babies don’t keep.