Every night the ritual is the same. Hope is fussing, her way of letting me know in early evening that she’s just about had it with the day. I so relate to what she is feeling.
While in general I am everything to everyone all day long, there is one time when this is not true. This is our one quiet moment when we are truly alone. As the third, she is more than familiar with having a bottle just about anywhere. She might be eating at Dylan’s school pick up, or Ruby’s school pick up, or while I’m on the phone with my father, or getting dinner started. Like the MVP of our family that she is, she rolls with it. Which is precisely why at around 6:30/7pm every night when she needs me most, I give her that. Just me. Not me divided or multitasking but just me.
We go in her room and draw the shades. I can feel both of our bodies beginning to relax in the relative darkness. I close the door and we settle into the glider. Just me and her, her evening bottle, a gentle if not slightly unconscious rocking back and forth. Every night, it is the same.
I whisper in her ear some Goodnight Moon, well memorized from whispering it in the ears of her older brother and sister for so many nights in the same chair. Then, I remind of her all of the people on Heaven and Earth that love her.
And then we rock. There is no sounds but the squeaking of the old glider and her rhythmic whooshing as she sucks down the last of the day’s milk. Slowly, steadily, we unwind separately and together from the chaos of the day. It is our mutual meditation.
I smell her. I kiss her. I burp her. In a day full of efficiencies and half-hearted attempts to perform various tasks of various levels of importance at somewhat efficient levels, it is amazingly always the first moment of my day (often 12 hours into it) that is deliberately slow. We have no goal other than our breath. We enjoy each other for no other reason than that we love each other, not because we need each other or need something from the other. I want to bottle this feeling in our breath and bodies and carry it with me throughout our day. I know that I can’t, which makes this time together each evening that much more sweet and fleeting.
When we are finished, I wrap her tightly which she seems to like and carefully place her in her crib. She looks at me and looks up. God I love this girl and her simple needs. I wind the mobile till I can’t wind it anymore and sweep her hair to the side. This is my little signal with my babies, all born with such full heads of hair. I carefully sweep their hair to the side so that I can look deeply into their eyes. We look at each other, without interruption. In some ways, this one gesture feels like the most important thing I’ve done all day. She sees me. She knows I am here.
Goodnight sweet baby.