A few mornings ago, I woke up to find my boy-child in the bed between his daddy and I. This is his early morning routine. I have no idea when he comes in, because I sleep through it. What I am about to say next will surely make every self-proclaimed parenting and child-rearing expert shudder: I LIKE waking up to his peachy soft babyish head on my pillow, gazing at his chubby cherub cheeks, listening to his baby sighs as he sleeps. Yes, I know he is three, but he is still my "baby," and I cherish him as such because I know I will never have another. I can still cradle him in my arms like an infant--nevermind the fact that his legs hang over my arms ridiculously. I can still hold him against my chest and rock him--as long as I'm sitting down. I can still kiss his soft baby skin and smell his baby head--whenever he lets me. Day by day he is growing, and one day he will leave those cherub cheeks and that baby smell behind, and it will be gone forever.
As I laid in bed pondering these big thoughts and wondering how my daughter got from baby stage to little girl stage in the blink of an eye, I began to feel all weepy and nostalgic. Dear Son had already hopped out of bed to be his daddy's shadow when Dear Daughter entered the room with her clothes crooked and her hair wild from her tangle with her blankets all night. Her eyes were still puffy with sleep. I invited her to snuggle with me for awhile, while I stalled against facing the reality of the day. She climbed into bed with me, and I scooted a bit to let her have the warmest spot. She told me all about her dream the night before while we cuddled and giggled. I was painfully aware of her long body, no longer chubby and babyish like her little brother's. I studied her face as she jabbered, and I felt comforted by the fact that I could still see some chub in her cheeks and a round button nose. She still looks like a little girl, and for this I was deeply relieved. I felt an ache burning deep in my belly as I tried to push away the thought that I could not stop Time from transforming my babies. We had fifteen minutes together, and then my dear child went skipping off to beg her daddy for some breakfast. I continued to lie there as her spot in the bed next to me grew colder.
At the end of each day, I cherish those bedtime moments that both my children still require. The routine is the same each night. I snuggle with my daughter under the blankets and the white tulle canopy with the pink and purple bows as we read stories together. When the lights go out, I linger. She begs me to stay, and I always do. A few minutes later I hear the tell tale sound of toddler feet in the hall followed by chubby hands pushing Daughter's bedroom door open. Dear Son parts from his own stories with his daddy and climbs into the bed with his sister and I, and we lie there together for awhile--Daughter pressed between the wall on one side and my body on the other, me in the middle, and Son against my other side with my arm holding him close so he doesn't slip off the edge of the twin mattress. They both curl into the crook of one of my arms and they both lay their head on either side of my chest. I hold them each close to my heart and listen to their sleepy sighs.
Last night was like any other night. But this time as I held my babies close to me in the dark, the tears snuck out of the corners of my eyes and rolled down the sides of my face as I thanked God for the treasures He has entrusted with me, and I tried not to think of the day when my babies are grown up and I will no longer snuggle between them on a twin mattress and hold them until they fall asleep.