She stirs. “Are you okay?” I whisper, as I pull the doona away from her sweaty little face. It’s not really a question, just something to say. She asks softly, “Will you look after me?” “Of course.” “Can I come down onto your bed?” “But I’m up here on your bed now.”
She realises with a satisfied sigh that I am lying beside her in her bed, my arm around her waist, my face inches from hers. “You are my best thing.” I tell her, “I love you so much. You make me happy every day” She smiles a smile of such pure sublime joy that I desperately wish to keep it forever.
I whisper more sweet nothings to her as she falls asleep again; feeling as she should always feel; utterly loved and valued and safe.
With their eight year gap, balancing the needs of the first two was relatively easy. It’s this third; this divine little boy baby, all chubbiness and curls, who has kept me from my little girl. So hard to have to let her go so much in the last year and yet, of course, I am only letting her go into her Daddy’s arms or her Sissy’s and now she has a little brother and soon he’ll be her playmate and friend (and sworn enemy too, no doubt) and one day they will be grown together and she will lend him money and he will hug her when it all goes wrong and tell her to cheer up for god’s sake.
So at night, I fall asleep entangled with my baby boy and I tell myself that I must remember to love this; drink it all in whenever I can, because in a heartbeat he’ll be grown. And all the while I miss the days of entanglement with my baby girls, each in their turn. This is parenthood for you – heartache and bliss in equal measure.
When she is sleeping soundly once more, I slip out to get ready for bed. I mean to come straight back. I’m tired and I’d rather get a little extra sleep than see in the new year, but I detour to my big girl’s room for good nights and new year wishes and somehow I find myself climbing into her bed and she doesn’t seem too perturbed at the imposition. We talk and look at photos and admire her beloved feline sister, laughing at Kitty’s fluffy-headed annoyance at having an uninvited visitor.
So now, at last, as I lie in bed with my dear little boy, listening to fireworks in the distance, marking midnight, I make a silent resolution. “More of that,” I think, “More moments of quiet intimacy, of whispered love notes and late night laughter. More entanglement and pure joy. More of all of it.”
Happy new year to you. I hope that you too found a beautiful bejewelled ring inside a half price Christmas cracker on New Year’s Eve or, at the very least, that your omens for the year ahead are equally auspicious.