Eliza has fallen asleep during our bedtime routine a few times in the last month. We sing so many songs every night after reading, whatever amount gets her to an acceptably relaxed state so I can leave the room and she won’t get up again, or at least only get up once. I watch her like a hawk, in the darkness, gauging her sleepiness so I can pop her into her bed at the perfect moment, before she gets a second wind or starts talking again. The few times she’s fallen asleep it’s been very sudden, from relaxed to snoring in an instant around the eighth or tenth song, and it catches me by surprise. I’ve been resisting the urge to dump her unceremoniously in her bed and run like hell, exuberant that the day is over and I’m free for an hour or two before I have to go to bed. Because while that’s how I may feel in the moment, in the bigger picture I don’t get these moments very often anymore with her and I want to savor them when they unexpectedly happen.
So I watch her sleep, see the contours of her face relax back into babyhood in slumber, that little face at once so familiar to me and so strange. I’ve known her her whole life, I think, and yet here she is, almost four, and this little person, so opinionated and curious and strong and vulnerable and I don’t know how it happened. I mean, I do know. We had this beautiful baby girl and then when she was still a baby we had another baby and then another. And here we are. I stare at her face, the one I remember staring at for hours in the middle of the night when she was first born, enamored and in awe of this tiny human we made, that didn’t exist at all before but was just…here now, here to stay. Here in the darkness, with no snack request forthcoming or demand for tv or question about the intricacies of the universe or the whys of a conversation we’ve had, I swear, a million times before this, here in this silent pause, I can feel that same sense of wonder. Who are you, I wonder, and what are you going to be like? Because as much as I think I know her, she can still surprise me. As with anyone, I can only know her so much. This little person, that Matthew and I made, she just came out of nowhere and here she is, asleep next to me–in all her familiarity and mystery.
I kiss her sweet little baby soft cheek and gather her long big girl limbs up in my arms, awkwardly transitioning her into her bed. One last kiss on the head, and then I run like hell because soaking up the moments is great and everything, but I really do only have a few hours of freedom before I need to go to bed too, and a glass of wine is calling my name.