As I mentioned a few times this week, the baby is getting (it seems) ALL the rest of his teeth at the same time. He's been hanging in there with his 8 front teeth for a number of months now, but all of a sudden there are four molars breaking through, as well as the beginning hints of incisors. It's a shudder-inducing thing to look in a baby's mouth and see the four point edges of a molar broken through the gums, knowing that the bulk, the entire surface of the tooth still has to bust its way through. What torture! Common with teething, Monkey also had a fever, and he was just all the way around out-of-sorts.
Normally, like clockwork, I put the baby to bed at 8. Once he's had dinner, taken a bath on bath nights, put on jammas and read books and said goodnight to everybody, I carry him into our room, where I turn on the lava lamp. This is his cue to reach down and press play on the CD player, starting his instrumental nigh nigh music. At that point he practically dives into his crib, and I generally don't hear a peep out of him...he just zonks himself out.
While I appreciate how easy it is to get my baby to sleep--as I know it can sometimes be a challenge with kids his age--I sometimes miss the days when he would let me hold and snuggle him for a while, singing "Goodnight Sweetheart" before putting him to bed, or even more cuddly...the days when he would fall to sleep while I nursed him.
Well anyway, tonight was nothing like normal nights on account of all that teething madness. Tonight the baby wanted me nearby well past his bedtime, so when I laid down on my bed, he put himself into a froggy squat position on top of me, laying his head down on my chest and letting out his quiet sounds of suffering...about a half an hour passed this way before he fell asleep.
Today's New Activity: Bedtime Wake-up Call
Every parent out there with kids at least 5-years old will tell you the same thing: that the time spent raising kids goes by in the blink of an eye. So far, I hadn't felt that sentiment. While it's true that I look back on monkey's baby pictures and can hardly remember him having been so small, it doesn't exactly feel like the time since then has flown. What's more, the fact that an entire separation and half a divorce has transpired since then can sometimes make his infant days seem like a lifetime ago. And given that I've had the privilege of working mostly part-time since he was born, I feel I've had the chance to truly live and appreciate ALL the stages of his young life that have come and gone.
But then tonight happened.
I'd really really wanted to go to the gym tonight. I just got back on track after 2 weeks away, and I was eager to experience the near-empty Friday night gym haunt after the baby went to sleep. In tonight's bedtime moment though, monkey sleeping on my chest, finally and totally at peace, and completely dependent on me, it finally hit me. It finally hit me that these moments will only get fewer and farther between. It will only become less likely that my boy would rather be snuggling in my arms than running, playing, or doing anything else in the world that makes him feel like a big boy and not a little baby. I will very soon be longing for these moments, wondering where they'd gone, and questioning whether or not I'd honored and appreciated them as completely as I could have when I had the chance.
I decided to stay with the baby and breathe and live and feel that moment as deeply and fully as I could. I forgot about the gym, about all my plans to read and catch up on Glee. I left my computer and my phone in the other room, and I just lay there with him for two hours, listening to his breath and rubbing his back when he got restless and moved around.
I tried to imagine our life five years from now, narrating softly in his sleeping ear the hopes and dreams I have for us, for our joy and fullness in a life so unlike the one we originally set out living together.
I tried to imagine how his face will change as he grows and loses more of his baby fat, how tall he'll be by the time he starts school, what his voice will sound like when he starts reading beginner books to me at bedtime. I sang him Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game" and put myself in the shoes of a mother at all those stages in his life: the 5-year-old catching bugs, the 12-year-old on ice skates, the 16-year-old behind the driver's seat, the young man setting out on his own.
Mostly, though, I just was. Just there. All his for those two hours in the quiet, in the lamp's pink glow. All his, for as long as he'll have me.