I just finished putting Sammy down for his nap. Sleeping for him (and consequently for the rest of us) has been hard lately. He’s been waking at 11 PM, 3 AM, 5AM and then wanting to start his day at 6 AM. Ugh. Oh, and he only wants to sleep if Mommy or Daddy are there beside him.
Part of this is definitely our fault. As much as I have tried not to make my youngest the stereotypical child-who-gets-away-with-anything, it’s been hard. He’s my BA-BY! I’ll never have this phase with a child again! And since that’s not entirely by choice, but more out of necessity and survival, I am definitely milking every baby-moment and stage I have with him. But sleep is my #1 necessity for a good mood, so something’s gotta give!
At least that’s what I thought.
Just now, lying beside him in his twin bed (for the first time since he was a newborn) he held my hand while falling asleep. Don’t get me wrong- he loves holding Mama’s hand. Well, actually since his hand is so small he usually wraps it around my middle finger and pointer finger. And I love it! I love walking with him that way, even sometimes just from the bedroom to the living room. He does it with his siblings too, “holds hands” as they walk through the house together-too cute!
But just now he actually wanted to hold my fingers while he fell asleep. I whispered my usual lullaby to him called the “I Love You” song. It goes like this… “I loooooove you. I loooooooove you.” I may not be Sondheim, but he likes it. J
Sneaking the occasional peak at him through half-closed eyes, I watched him slowly close his own. His body relaxed, his breathing became more regular and deep. Then those cute little twitches started as he went from squeezing my fingers tight to letting them loose, a randomly repeating cycle as he drifted to dreamland.
For a moment, life was perfect. Seriously. Just look at that beautiful expression…his tiny nose, the “Martinez nose” as we call it, his one link to his Hispanic ancestry on his sweet ivory face. Those long, dark eyelashes! (Why do the boys always get the best lashes?!) His round, soft cheeks like peaches asking to be kissed. In that small moment I knew I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Dish duty called though and I could hear the rumblings of my other children growing louder. I started to pull away, but he held my fingers tight-refusing to let me go!, another cute act he hadn’t done since babyhood. I stayed a little longer, enjoying, watching, feeling thankful. Then, in the middle of a moment where he relaxed his hand, I pulled away…and the moment was gone.
For a beat I waited there, missing it already. I ended the perfect moment! Do I try to stick my fingers back in his grasp? Do I risk waking him up or the other children needing me and barging in? No, the moment was over and it was time to move on to the rest of the day.
But first, I had to write. I had to write how lucky I felt to have had that instant. Unlike some of our friends, we never struggled with getting pregnant- ours came sooner than expected! These surprises meant that financially and emotionally, we weren’t as ready as we wanted to be. But there are no regrets.
I used to hear people talk about poor choices or difficult circumstances and say that they would never change what they went through because it made them who they are, even the bad they went through. I would roll my eyes and think they were just saying that to make themselves feel better, that if they could do it all again of course they would live differently. Now I know what they meant.
I wouldn’t change a thing we’ve done either. All the choices, wise and foolish, have made my family who it is today. I’m learning and moving forward and onward. But I do this best when I find time for those little moments of perfection. Sometimes they only last minutes, sometimes just seconds, when a child laughs hysterically at your lame joke or says you’re “so cool” because you know about Gumby. It’s when my son was so excited this week to tell me about how water can magically turn into a gas and go into the air or when my daughter was brave yesterday and pulled out her dangling front tooth. It’s those precious, perfect moments of peace and discovery that get me through and make everything, even the sleepless nights, all worth it.