Barring a potential medical miracle (or medical incompetence, whichever way you choose to look at it), we are done having children. That knowledge has helped me survive many of the challenges that child-bearing and child-rearing has brought my way. I literally chanted "I never have to do this again" throughout my third pregnancy and delivery and during many a sleepless night. It was also my refrain throughout The Week of the Potty Training (also known as Hell Week around these here parts.)
But knowing that R is my last and that I will probably never again experience the joys of babyhood and toddlerdom makes me want to savor every last moment I have (except the potty training; there is NO savoring THAT).
One of my favorite past times is rocking my babies to sleep. When my son was little, I used to rock him before putting him in his crib awake every night. We would sing, and when I told him it was time for bed, he would say "One last more." That meant he wanted one more song. I always obliged.
When my first daughter came along, we got in the habit of coddling her to sleep. She was (and still is) the high maintenance one (no apple and tree comments are necessary) and I used to walk around her darkened room, bopping up and down, singing lullabies until she would finally relax enough for me to sit in the rocker and rock her the rest of the way to sleep.
My third child loves to cuddle and snuggle, but she is willing to let me sit in the rocking chair instead of bee-bopping around the room like her big sister preferred. She is going to be three in October, and I still rock her to sleep for most naps. (My husband often takes over at bedtime.)
As I was rocking her today, she started out as she typically does, distractable, asking questions, moving around, shifting from my right shoulder to my left, finally arranging herself sitting beside me, my arm behind her back, her head resting against my cheek. As her chattering stopped and her breathing slowed and grew heavy, I felt my own body relax, knowing the battle was won and she would soon be off to dreamland.
That’s my favorite part. Once she’s asleep, I’m always reluctant to get up and put her in her crib. Today as I sat and stared at her chubby toes and her skinned up knees and her sturdy toddler legs, it occurred to me how soon they would be long and lithe and gangly. It won’t be long before she outgrows her naps entirely and eventually graduates to a twin bed, and I won’t be rocking her to sleep anymore. And there will probably be no more babies to rock to sleep for a very long time. (I am looking forward to rocking my grandchildren with great anticipation.)
I know there are great times to come. I enjoy the relationships I’m developing with my older children. But there is nothing quite like a baby.