As the mother of a toddler, a significant portion of my day is spent rocking, swaying, bouncing, patting, swinging, shushing, calming, singing and just plain waiting for my daughter to fall asleep.
At times, it’s like battling melting ice when she sits in my arms, staring out into emptiness, resisting sleep. The world is so full of things to do that sleep is the very last one on her list.
She grows increasingly distant as she sits and stubbornly resists the eyelids that are getting heavier and heavier. Her little head will slowly begin to tilt to one side as, it too, is overcome by the weight of drowsiness. Yet she will not surrender.
She will muster her strength once more to blink her heavy eyelids, only to have them sink back down halfway across the eyes. Her stare is fixed at nothing in particular and with an iron-like will she resists the slumber that so clearly wants to overcome her.
I adjust my hold on her, desperately trying to shift her sleep-heavy weight in my numbing arms so that I can continue to sway her. If I stop the motion now only God can help me. Her nap is already an hour late.
After what seems an eternity, she exhales a small sigh and, at last, rests her cheek against my chest. She succumbs to her heavy eyelids, and there is a slight shift in her breathing. There is an almost imperceptible increase in her weight. Her little fist loosens its grip on her Blanky. I roll my eyes to the ceiling in silent victory.
As I lay her down in bed and tuck her in she unseeingly opens her eyes a few times, as if in protest, but soon closes them again and settles into sleep. I watch her beautiful little face, so relaxed and peaceful in sleep, and feel my love for her wash over me.
I marvel at how she can fill an entire room with her energy when she’s awake. When she sleeps, she shrinks into a tiny little thing that fits in the crook of my arm. In those moments she feels so frail, and I curl around her more tightly.
A sigh of relief escapes me, and I settle in to enjoy the peace and quiet that won’t last long. She has been waking up an hour early from her naps lately, and with her, the hustle and bustle that is a one-year-old will return in full force.
She will wake me up with a silly face and make me laugh. I will shed my exhaustion from poorly slept nights and carry her to the kitchen. She will watch me make her snack and tell me if I missed something by pointing and saying “Haa!”.
We’ll sit down in front of the TV, and I’ll catch a cat nap while she drinks her milk. When she’s done, she will order me to put the milk away and take my hand. We’re off on another adventure.