You’re up at 5 am. They call this “sleeping through the night.” I groan and meet you in our secret place: dark room, soft carpet, a rocking chair in the corner. The glow of nightlight feels sacred when I’m here, like I’ve been roused from my sleep for some holy appearing, a light leaking, heaven-glow.
I’m barefoot. My t-shirt says: “Brooks was here” across my chest. It’s a quote from a movie but it’s also your name. And you’ve definitely been there.
In the darkness, you’ve scooted your body sideways in the crib. Your leg is caught in the open space and you’re crying. My hands move quick under your arms (how many times have I gathered you this way, like a mama kitty snatching babies with her mouth?) and I scoop you out of your trouble. That’s my job. You know that.
Seven months in this world and you know enough to need me. Milk, you sign with that frantic, animal look in your eyes. I know a please when I see one. We sit together in the chair I nursed your brother in, the chair I held you in when you were barely a life at all, just a flop of a body cradled in my arms into the shape you were meant to hold. You had to learn even this, how to pull forth milk, how to latch and swallow, how to open your eyes and look for mine.
I’ve been thinking lately how quickly this time has gone. The old ladies in the veggie aisle are always right, you know. You do grow up before we know it. You’re already 20 pounds and I’m sure that each of your thighs weighs 10. A spike of blonde hair sprouts out from your crown and in the front, your bangs are begging for a cut…again.
Yesterday your brother was thrilled to share a shopping cart with you: two steering wheels for two little boys. You pounded on your wheel and waited to see what August would do to his. He would turn to look at you when strangers walked past as if to say: “Yes, he does belong to me. Don’t get any ideas.” I stopped my shopping and recorded the two of you from behind. Looking at each other and smiling. I kept thinking: Don’t let this float out of your mind. This, right here! Remember it.
And here, you and me in this rocking chair, the rest of the house asleep—even the cat. I’m too tired to talk and you’re slowly fading back into the haze of milk and sleep, your arm in the air reaching for my face. Sometimes our bodies say what our minds fail to get across. I think: I will fail you soon enough, little boy. So, now, at 5 am, I’ll give you what I have: my sleep, my milk, my presence. I’ll hold you while I doze and awake to the two of us—your mouth drooped open, head back in bliss. I’ll lay you down and forget to wonder at the thought of you: that you exist, that we’re yours and you’re ours.
In the daylight we’ll dress ourselves and scratch off to-do lists, strap into car seats and accomplish important grown-up things. But you, my love, will gaze at shapes and dots, stripes and textures. And when you see me across the room, you’ll smile, or turn your eyes to find my voice speaking into a phone. And, sometimes, momentarily, I’ll remember the miracle, catch your eye and we’ll both know.
Linking up with Heather at the Extraordinary Ordinary in order to “Just Write”…