May 15, 2013


I'm the only one who knows what it feels like to nurse you to sleep. To feel your body go limp and heavy in my arms. Your head falling back causing the baby chub in your face to slide away, giving me a tiny glimpse of what you might look like when you're older. I marvel at the long and lean body lying before me, replacing the squishy, chubby baby you used to be. You're always on the go so I never get to just sit and stare at your beautiful face. It's a quiet stolen moment in those dark hours.

I'm the only one who knows our nighttime dance. I know exactly what it takes to get you to sleep and how easy it is to wake you. I can tell if it's going to be an easy night or a hard one. I know that you don't yet know how to give in to the sleep that your body so desperately needs. I know that you'll be waking in a bit and that you'll need to rock or lie with me and nurse until you fall asleep again. As you fall into sleep I start to plot my getaway. I can tell what stage of sleep you're in just by your sucking. First, I try to take the breast away. If that works and you don't wake, I know I have a good chance of sneaking away. I wait a few minutes until I hear your breathing get heavier. I slowly start to prepare to transition you to your bed or to peel myself away if I'm lying with you. I do it ever so slowly and if you start to stir, I freeze and lightly pat your back until I hear your breathing change again. Sometimes you wake and we start the dance all over again. Sometimes I fall asleep trying. When I'm finally able to sneak away, I walk carefully, avoiding all of the creaks in the floor that I know will wake you. I know I have an hour or two to myself before we do this dance again. I know that this teething process is incredibly hard on your little body and often makes sleep difficult. You'll get better at this. I know you will. And these moments will be a distant memory that I'll look back on longingly.

In my foggy, sleepy nighttime haze, I look down at your sweet face falling asleep in my arms and I know that this . . . the hard times, the frustration, the sleepless nights, the fear, the selflessness, the pee, the poop, the teeth, the tantrums, the small victories and the unconditional love. . . this is motherhood.

A late Mother's Day post in honor of those who have walked this path of motherhood before me and to my own mother who taught me all the mothering I know.

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