“What am I looking for in this moment, my daughter in my arms?” Yes. Sometimes the answer is “sleep”. Just sleep. I want to be alone in the quiet. To do the things that I need to do before she wakes again.
“Am I finding it?” Sometimes yes. And sometimes no.
“What else can I find in this moment?” Sometimes that is the question that saves me.
Sleep will come eventually. She will be a preschooler, a gradeschooler, a teenager, an adult.. I will sit beside her as she learns to write, to draw, to create. I will sit beside her as she does her homework. I will sit beside her as she talks about boyfriends or girlfriends and heartbreak and hopes for her future. She will be sleeping then.
So what now? What can I find in this moment when that sleep isn’t coming anytime soon? When she is small and dimpled with only eight teeth?
Surely there is something in this moment to breathe in. Of course there is. There’s my pigtailed kicky-footed daughter here in this moment that we can never live again.
Hello little one. Hello little fingers that dimple at the backs of your hands. Hello little toes that barely find room for themselves on your little baby feet. Hello whispy flyaway pigtails. Hello deep blue eyes that search mine and that light up with a spark when you see that you have one hundred percent of my attention. Hello slobbery kisses and head-bonking hugs.
This wasn’t what I was looking for, but I found it in this moment where sleep didn’t come.
We laugh. We snuggle. I tell her that she is beautiful and strong and funny looking and sweet and marvelous and that I am happy to be spending this time with her.
Then when she starts rubbing her eyes I whisper softly that she is tired and that it’s time to sleep. She whines at the thought but then lays her head against my collarbone and drifts off slowly.
That was what she was looking for in that moment, and now that the moment has passed she succumbs peacefully to the sleep that her little body needs.
And I have what I was looking for, too. Just a little bit later and with precious moments that I would have otherwise missed.