Today I sat with my baby in the lobby of the hair place while my oldest got a hair cut. It was a rare moment, time alone with my baby of 1 year. He was strapped into a stroller and I enjoyed his babbles along with a friendly stranger who was going gah gah over him. Something I used to be bothered by because it made the older one angry and dealing with that in public is about as fun as trying to fly a lead balloon. I used to wonder what all the fuss was about- strangers going nuts over babies. I used to hurry along and hope they would let me go on my path without too much interruption. But I am starting to get it now. I am starting to see just how fleeting this innocence and purity and easy-to-smile goes. How it's never to return. How this baby's friendly wave goodbye to perfect strangers might even end in a few short months. It's a shame we don't stay that way, easy to exchange smiles and wave to everyone we meet- even perfect strangers.
She was called in for her cut and it was just me and baby. I tickled his toes, talked about the red car in the book, watched him point with eagerness and make new noises with his mouth. A mouth crammed with goldfish crackers, which is also fun to see him devour them like they are the greatest thing on earth. I love watching him sign for 'more' for those things, it's like he can't do it fast enough and his face is so hopeful it will be 5 and not 2. That will end one day too, someday he will be sick of those orange fish I enjoy seeing him love to eat.
I hold him longer at nap times and at night, watching him asleep in my arms a little longer. Tracing the curve of each eye lash and rounded nose with my mind. Memorizing his face. Whispering to him how much mommy loves him, and daddy too. Then praying out loud in a soft, gentle voice for him to have a good night of rest for his growing body, safety in his slumber and to be protected. To have faith that as much as I want to hover over him his entire life, I cannot. But he will still be watched over when we are absent, we are not alone raising him. Not for a single moment.
I am pleased with the way I enjoyed this baby today, the moments of pleasure I took in drinking him in. Making him smile that shy smile filled with teeth. Stopping when he wanted to be held and encouraging him as he climbed on a box, sitting proud as can be and dangling his feet.
Very soon he will be going down for naps and bed time completely awake. I will miss watching him dose off into slumber.
I watched my oldest eat lunch. Alone in a chair, little attention these days while I feel the baby little pieces of food or encourage his new spoon skills. I looked at him and remembered how much of me he used to get. How we would wake up each morning to eat, then watch cartoons with him in my lap on the floor. I think it was Little Bear. Then Little Bill. Then Maggie and Ferocious Beast. I liked talking about the lessons we would learn together as they applied to a different part of our day. But most importantly that was how we started every day- snuggling together while we were waking up.
Now he is 4 and there is a lot to do in the morning. I don't know what happened between then and now, I just know we are still a happy family with our new routine. Somehow we are all okay, but that doesn't mean a 4 year old doesn't still need some snuggles worked into the day somehow, still. Because someday really soon he won't want them anymore. 4 so far has been a big year to be a tough boy, suddenly hates anything to do with pink, wants to be cool, and plays rough with dad and friends. Wants to be a big kid, talks about what he will be like when HE is a grown up and yet is still a really little boy learning natural consequences every single day.
Tonight he took waaaaaay too long brushing teeth so no stories, as warned. This was a big disappointment to him to say the least. Tears. Sadness. I took him in my arms and just held him. The way I did when it was just us in the mornings. And he let me, he just sat in my lap and began to relax. I sang him the hymn Did You Think to Pray I used to sing when I would rock him to sleep as a baby, it's been years. Then I tried to switch to a primary song he is learning, but he protested. He wanted the other song again. I wonder if it felt familiar to him. It did to me. I pressed my nose to his hair and tried to think of my son as a baby back then. How I would rock him and wait for Mike's train to come in. How I would have so much new love for that tiny little being and no way to express it well enough. How I would put him to bed and forget every single lullaby, but how that one song always came to my mind so that's what became his goodnight song. And now he is four, saying his own prayers on his knees at the edge of his own bed. No rocking chair. No crib.
When you left your room this morning
Did you think to pray?
In the name of Christ our Savior
Did you ask for loving favor
As a shield today?
Oh how praying rests the weary
Prayer will change the night to day
So in sorrow and in gladness
Don’t forget to pray
When you met with great temptation
Did you think to pray?
By His dying love and merit
Did you claim the Holy Spirit
As your guide and stay?
When your heart was filled with anger
Did you think to pray?
Did you plead for grace, my brother
That you might forgive another
Who had crossed your way?