This post originally ran as part of Nichole’s Small Moments Mondays series at In These Small Moments. It was the first time I’d ever been asked to guest post, and to be asked by someone whose blog I admire, whose friendship means a great deal to me, and whose support as a fellow writer has been invaluable – well, to say I was honored is putting it mildly.
If you don’t read her already, take a moment to go over there. Her writing is excellent; her bravery, gratitude, grace and humor evident in every post.
For those of you who might have missed it the first time around, here it is as an end of the year treat. Enjoy!
Still My Baby At Bedtime
My son, Felix, and I are lying in his dark room, noses pressed together, the white noise machine buzzing quietly to cover the swoosh and rattle of traffic outside. We are counting the songs I will sing to him before I tuck him in and say goodnight.
“One… two… fwee…” he says to me, blowing the scent of bubble gum toothpaste and toddler breath into my nose, and holding up three fingers in the shadows.
I cannot bear to correct his lisp.
“Two. One, two,” I reply, tapping our fingertips together.
“Which two songs should I sing, lovey?” We could go around all night negotiating the number of stories and songs.
“Shellabye an’ Hush L’il Baby.”
Shellabye… my heart swells up. He means “All the Pretty Little Horses,” as sung by the lovely Laurie Berkner, but when he was smaller and less verbal, somehow the hushabye became shellabye. Much like the little lisp, I am loathe to correct him.
So much of this baby sweetness will disappear soon.
He gathers up his Beek, the blue velvet fleece blanket who is his companion, and curls up like a prawn against me. Like he did when I was nursing him, his fingers play with the velvet fleece of my pink robe as I sing, and I am reminded why he loves Beek. His fingers remember the hours of rocking and nursing. He touches his mouth to the blanket for comfort, the shape of his lips and the peeking tip of his tongue reminiscent of a nursing infant. He still associates the texture of his beloved blanket with nourishment. His heart knows how much love there is here, curled up with his Mama.
I let the last note hover in silence.
“Hush L’il Baby, Mama,” he reminds me. For all that he is my baby, he is weeks from his third birthday, and quite capable of reminding me of my bedtime obligations.
He sings this one along with me. He knows most of the words, and when he doesn’t, he uses mockingbird as a default lyric. I sing slowly, over pronouncing the words for him, striking the pitches a cleanly as I can, lying down with his head tucked under my chin, hoping that along with the love and comfort, he is taking away from this some of my musical gifts.
We finish the song together, and he rolls gleefully over, stretching out for the last part of bedtime. I shake Beek out to cool it off. He always searches out the cool side of the blanket the way I seek the cool spot on the pillow case. I lay it down over his pillow; this way they aren’t separated during the night.
He presents me with his bed friends for goodnight kisses, before snuggling down for his own kiss.
“Goodnight, Mr. Hello Kitty.”
“Goodnight, Pug Dog.”
“Goodnight, Boy.” Here I kiss him, he kisses me, and then a together kiss, a kiss on the lips.
I draw the comforter up over him, he wiggles in a little further.
“Goodnight, Baby. I love you. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams. I will see you in the morning.”
In my last glimpse of him as I close the door, his fingers play with the velvet fleece, his mouth moves against the fabric like a newborn at the breast.
He’s still my baby for one more bedtime.