I walk into her room and she arches her back, pushes away from me protesting in short squeaks of dissent, “I am not tired!” she screams at me without words. I wrap her blanket around her shoulders and a yawn over takes her body, she rubs her face against my chest, her last ditch effort to fight the physical demand to shut down and recharge. Sometimes she struggles long enough to drive me crazy, sometimes she instantly finds that sweet spot that fits her cheek just perfectly, my skin her warm pillow, but she always succumbs. I hold onto her for a few more seconds memorizing moments I’ll too soon forget. This baby, my baby for such a short time and maybe even my last yet I’ll forget most of this eventually.
Now her sister is sleeping across my pillow all arms and legs and knobby knees and I remember when she was all baby belly and binky, when her smile wound around it without letting it go. The queen of sleep fighters everywhere, that kid. Yet there she lays, just weeks away from 3, sleeping peacefully while I pine for babyhood and wish for toddlerhood and wonder about childhood…
These moments are so fleeting, their need for me changes every second. Mother is my job, it has become who I am, infecting every thought with their faces and wellbeing. Inhale, Emi, exhale, Ella.
I sink onto my bed, well past exhausted, “Please, don’t let me have another,” I beg Ross. “I will forget this, I will forget how hard this is and I’ll try to make you forget, too. Please don’t let me.”
And then the morning comes and I do forget. I forget when Ella smiles when she catches my reflection in the mirror, when Emi snuggles up to me and kisses my leg, my shoulder, whatever she can reach. Because after every struggle, eventually they’ll rest their heads on my chest and breathe in deep, slowly, content and fall asleep.