When the Baby Days are Done

baby days talk with a mom and her baby

I really thought for the longest time that I would never sleep eight consecutive hours again. And I mean that in the most literal of ways.

When it comes to lack of sleep, we have been the poster family for Exhausted Parents of Young Children. And with our kids–now 6.5, almost 5, and just over 2–we have more than fulfilled our quota for exhaustion.

I know there are babies out there who sleep well–I hear these fables quietly whispered about around town–but our babies weren’t those babies. None of our three.

While they were never fussy, per se–no extended bouts of crying or colic or anything else that could make a baby wail–they were… I don’t know… wakeful. Snuggle lovers. Anxious to spend as much time pasted to various parts of my body during the overnight hours as possible.

And that was hard.

But as with every Big Thing that comes into and through our lives, the Period of the Nightly Snuggles seems like it’s coming to an end.

I realized it because, despite a few rough nights (back-to-school viruses are REAL, people) this past week I’ve had a few consecutive nights of sleep where no one needed me in the middle of the night.

And some small, (clearly) sick part of me kind of missed it.

I know what you’re thinking. That I’m being dramatic, or overstating it. How could someone who’s literally sleepwalked through the better part of the last seven years actually long for more of that unique brand of torture?

I don’t… but I do… but not really… but… you know what I mean.

Parents know what I mean.

So here we are. At the very tippy-tip end of our Baby Days. I can now mark the moments where I can easily carry my child on my person with days, rather than years.

And I’m a little sad.

How many tropes have been written about parenthood? Surely the one about Time Flying and Taking Your Babies Right Along with It has got to be right there at the top.

But damn, it flies. And it did.

And here I am, suddenly wistful and wishing (shh, don’t tell my husband because not really) we could have one more baby. One more tiny person to usher from Squirming and Soft Flour-Sack Snuggler to Wily, Somehow-Suddenly-Smarter-Than-You Kid.

Man, guys. This is so hard. And so wonderful. You know what I mean?

You know what they say about muscle memory? How your body can remember a dance you learned decades ago because it literally is ingrained in your being?

That’s gotta be the way it is with babies. With our children.

Because if we close our eyes and stay still for just long enough, we can go right back to that memory. That achingly-exhausted, yet somehow insanely-content memory.

You know the dance. It’s that one where we feel the warm weight of that tiny body on our chests. Where we brush our lips against that tender, warm skin at their temples.

Where, if we really relax back into our old dance, we can even feel the rock-rock-rock from the worn baby glider… when we open our eyes to the dim yellow glow of the tiny night light in the corner of the nursery as we ask ourselves, How much longer here??

If we only knew what we were really asking back then.

Yep. I’ve come to realize that the reason I must miss it so much is because it’s muscle memory. And the muscle is our hearts.

The holding, all the rocking, all the pacing, all the shushing and swaddling and smelling and savoring. All that stuff that never, never goes away. Not if we get quiet and close our eyes. No matter how very big they get.

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