Since my first day as a stay at home mom, Evie and I have had a nap routine. We cuddle together in my bed until she falls asleep. For the most part, it's always been a nice time in our day. A few quiet moments together before Evie drifts to dreamland.
But when I was pregnant with Ethan, I started to worry about this routine. First of all, Evie was almost three years old. I knew she should be falling asleep on her own. And how would I manage to keep this up with an infant in the house?
The subject came up once with my doctor. I remember explaining to Dr. Jewell that I still held Evie or snuggled with her until she fell asleep. Instead of a reproachful look, he told me it was okay, that he rocked his kids to sleep until they were well past three. Then he gave me a little pearl of wisdom: Evie is never going to be mad that I helped her fall asleep. She is never going to grow up and say "Mom, you loved me too much."
So I decided then and there to keep our routine. If I needed to change things when Ethan arrived, I would deal with it then.
But I haven't. There has not been even a single day when I couldn't find the time to lay next to Evie under the covers. Lately, though, I have been rushing her. I want her to fall asleep quickly because Ethan could wake up any minute and need me. I want her to fall asleep quickly because I use the time when both of my children are sleeping to return phone calls, to empty the dishwasher, to catch up on Desperate Housewives while I fold a load of laundry.
Because of this, our routine hasn't been very nice lately. I save minutes by refusing to sing to her. I cut corners and don't tell a story or read from the journal I kept when she was a baby. I growl at her to be still, to close her eyes, to stop talking. And as soon as she falls asleep, I sneak out.
But yesterday, the thought occurred to me that I was changing what used to be one of the best parts of our day. I thought about wanting a baby with all my heart, and not being able to have one. At that time, I would have given anything to be in bed with my daughter, whispering the story of how Daddy proposed or laughing when she randomly said "My hands look a lot like dog hands."
Yesterday, I put my face close to hers. I smelled her hair, her strawberry-shampoo-girly-scent. When she rolled over, I kissed her little back. I put my arm around her until I felt her breathing become even and slow. Still, I stayed with her. I watched her long eyelashes flutter in her sleep.
And I thanked God for her, for this time with her.
I am going to do my best not to wish these days away. I won't wish for the day she can fall asleep on her own. I won't wish for the day when I'm not slowed down by buckling two kids into their car seats. I won't wish for the day I'm not picking up Barbies and Crayons and blocks from the floor. I won't wish for the day when Ethan can drink milk from a sippy cup or go on the potty. I won't wish for the day Evie can brush her own hair.
I will savor these days, because I already know they don't last. But I will enjoy them for as long as I can.