Every once in awhile, motherhood hits you right in the heart. It’s arrows pierce what you always thought was so tough inside you and you suddenly feel full and overwhelmed.
It’s not the same kind of overwhelmed that you felt going into your first exams as a teenager, or when you put on your first family Thanksgiving. It’s like the overwhelming joy you feel the first time you see the fireworks at DisneyWorld. It’s the overwhelming sense of relief you felt the first time someone looked into your eyes and told you that you were beautiful and you knew they meant it. It’s tasting cheesecake for the first time. It’s taking that first sip of alcohol, underage, and knowing it was both delicious and terrifying. It’s getting into an airplane for the very first time and just trusting that you’ll make it to your destination. It’s all these overwhelming feelings, and more. So much more.
Tonight, I laid my daughter down to bed. She was fast asleep in my arms. Heavy and warm. As I laid her down though, she stirred and woke. She knew I wasn’t holding her anymore. I let her fuss for a moment, hoping she would settle herself as she usually does. Not tonight. Tonight she cried. So I went to her rescue, as any good parent would do. She reached up for me, and I gave her exactly what she wanted, my arms.
She’s crawling now, so she very rarely wants to be held. She’s been independent since day one, more so now that she has the big wide world of our house to explore. Who wants to be held by their mother when there’s cats to chase and windows to look out and shoes to chew? Obviously she hangs out with the dog too much. But I digress. Cuddles are a sweet thing to savour now. So savour I did.
(The day she found the front window.)
I picked her up and held her close to me. She nestled her head into that perfect spot on my shoulder, where she could sleep and I could still see her sweet little face. I rubbed her back gently and the culprit of discomfort came bubbling up; a stray gas bubble. “Ah,” I whispered. “That’s what was wrong! Mommy is sorry she missed that one. It’s ok now. You can go to sleep.” And I began to sway.
You know the Mom Sway? The side to side motion that moms will do without even thinking about it. You can spot a mom in the line at the grocery store by the subconscious swaying she begins while standing there. Moms are never truly still again after they have a child. Hyper-vigilance keeps us on our toes. We are ready to rescue, always.
Tonight’s mom sway was different though. It started as the standard side to side. However, I noticed I had fallen back into the sway that worked like magic to put my newborn baby to sleep at 3 o’clock in the morning. I found myself doing a familiar figure eight with my hips. Slowly swaying an infinity sign. Perhaps I was subconsciously letting her know our love was forever. That’s when I flashed back to over 10 months ago.
I watched myself in my mind. I saw myself holding a tiny, swaddled baby, while doing this silly figure eight sway. Like a slow motion hula dancer without a grass skirt. The only lights on were those of the Christmas tree. There was no snow that year, but there’s still something magically still about a December night. I wasn’t still though. I was putting my new baby back to sleep, and tonight, while I put my growing girl back to sleep, I cried.
(Ruby’s First Christmas)
I cried because I got hit in the heart by motherhood. I mourn that December. I do not wish to repeat the newborn phase, but I miss those quiet nights alone with my daughter by the light of the Christmas tree. I always hated cliches, but sometimes they are too true. They really do grow up too fast. So I held on a few extra moments just so I could feel her warm, heavy body in my arms and listen to her breathe and remember the Christmas lights. I will have more December nights with my curious, adventurous, brilliant girl. I expect they won’t be nearly as silent…but they will be just as special.