You wake in the night and I go to you, tiptoeing over wooden creaks. Your cries insist on comfort and who am I to deny? The frantic joy and anger greets my ears as your eyes light up and tiny fists ball and the thickest of thighs kick harder. One second and you’re lifted up, up into arms and close to chest and there - you’re nuzzled and silent and sleeping again. Our breath becomes one, your sigh contented. I could put you down…
Just one minute more please.
Your eight month old body is long, long, long enough to wrap around me and where did the tiny baby go? Your soft hair glints in caught nightlight and shadows dance from eyelashes and that little nose is starting to look like your daddy’s and there's the curve of the ears that are distinctly mine and the arch of the eyebrows that are all your own and I can’t stop looking. Gazing. Drinking. Gulping. You look like a little boy. A man child. My man cub. You are hibernating now. You untuck your hand and place it firmly on my heart, staking a claim that's been yours since you began.
Oh, just one minute more please.
My eyes closed, my cheek on your forehead, you stir at the touch. I want you to sleep sweetly, dream deeply, rest fully, and wake and smile all the same. You seem more my baby when you sleep. I hold you, rock you, my vulnerable little one. You need me and I relish it. One day you won’t — I can’t bear the thought. You always will, but oh! it will be different, and oh! I look forward to the boy, the young man, the man, but oh! I hold you as you are now, right now, this moment, this size, this baby of mine and I want you this way forever. Forever my baby.
Please. One minute more.
I should lay you down. I should let you sleep. I should get some sleep. But you. Oh, wonderful you! Look at those toes! Those chubby feet! Feel the ridges and rolls and smoothest skin! Cradle the ribs expanding and exhaling and wonder, wonder at it all. This breath that enters and leaves and leaves life and nourishes and you don’t even know. Pause in gratitude. Pause to praise. Pause to give thanks and worship the Creator who was babe and man and beautiful. Hear the breath. Feel it. Remember it.
Just one more.
I love you, I breathe it. I love you, I hold you closer. I love you and I treasure this moment in time and treasure it deep, deep in my heart. You’re my boy, my son, my baby, and my heart is full. Bursting. You inspire me, sweet sleeper. You melt me. They say that in the blinks you miss it. I’ll keep mine open wide.