Little eyelids droop, flutter, and drop. A moment later, she's gone. I watch her, listen to her breath as it lengthens and steadies. Four inches from her, her long legs touching mine, she finally (FINALLY!) starts her nap, and I marvel. Did really I give birth to this beautiful creature? How is it that seven pounds of mewling baby turned into this?
Six hours later, there's another sweet warm body next to mine, this one stockier, plumper, and almost comically earthy. Our relationship is often all about this little body: the Foods He Likes (cheddar bunnies, cheerios, bananas), the diapers he fills, the sleep he needs. But tonight, for a few moments, he leaves his body behind, flops backward onto the bed with a grin as we bring out the board books: Feel the Baby Animals, Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, and the ultimate: One Duck Stuck.
We read, point, flip pages. He grins with delight most at the pages that are most familiar, the comments he expects me to make each time we reach them. But when I ask him if he's ready for "RockaRocka", he grins bigger. "KKKK," he says firmly (meaning "OK"), reaching for my arms before I'm quite ready to pick him up.
We settle down into the glider, and his heavy little head nestles into my shoulder. He's big now; his legs are almost comically folded up underneath him so that his trunk can be as close to me as possible. I wrap my arms around this strong little fella, his broad chest and chunky legs, and again, I stop and steep in the moment.
They are so very mine right now: mine to feed, diaper, nap, clothe, reclothe, tote around town. Mine to read to, sing to, walk with, eat with, train, teach, cajole, force, bandage, mourn with. I'm an introvert, and there are moments, even as I exult in their love, their innocence and sweetness and joy as they pile on me like puppies, I sometimes at the same moment feel a bit smothered, a bit Never Alone. Oh my word, what I would give at times for a day or three to myself, with books and yarn and a fountain pen and camera and all those things I used to have time to enjoy.
But then I think about those tiny veins in her eyelids, and the way her long eyelashes wave up and down like little surrender flags as she gives in to sleep.
And I think about his grin as he gleefully sticks his tiny finger into my ear canal for the thousandth time, delighting in watching me cringe and squeal and pull it away.
And I think about how proud I am that he's finally decided he wants to walk, and that she's almost sure to be reading before she even starts kindergarten, and how excited I am to be there for the next steps on their journeys.
And really, this is exactly where I want to be.
(As long as there's hot tea and an hour or two of peace and quiet available each night.)