Saturday, November 22, 2014

bedtime (6:30 pm)

People have been telling me I've been babying Ethan since he was born. I never cared. Babies grow up, after all, and I wanted to soak it in for as long as I was able to. When he was an infant, I would rock him to sleep every night. "Bad habit," people would say. I would ignore them. One day, he asked me to stop rocking him to sleep. Instead, he asked, would I lay with him while he fell asleep? Of course I did. From laying on the floor next to his toddler bed to laying next to him in his regular bed, I did whatever he asked. And eventually he would fall asleep. Mostly my husband does bedtime as it's his time to spend with Ethan during the week, but some nights I do. And on this nights, I always linger a little longer in his room just to touch his hair or listen to his breaths as he sleeps. Just a few minutes extra to soak it all in because on day he won't me to lay with him anymore. One day he won't need me like he does now.

Of course, there are people who still think this is a bad habit. There are still people who tell me it's a habit that should be broken. But I just think about my daughter, the one whose back I'll never rub until she falls asleep. The one who we won't walk back to bed at 3 a.m. and lay with until morning. The one who will never ask us to rock her to sleep or request lullabies for us to sing her. I think of my daughter whose hair I will never breathe in, whose breaths I will never see. And I know that I'm right and that what everyone else considers a bad habit is really a gift that I am so unbelievably grateful for.

Loss does this a lot, at least for me. It takes away the doubt and worry that I had previously been racked with. I stopped caring what other people thought. I stopped wondering if I was doing things the right way.

I realized that it's okay if Ethan wets the bed until he's 12 because he's there to wet those sheets and add to our laundry piles. It's okay if he needs me to hold him and carry him even though obnoxious strangers in restaurants like to point out he's "too old" to be held. I realized that it's perfectly okay for Ethan to spend the days with me and in my care because I can provide him with what needs at this point in his life and he is here for me to provide him with those things. My daughter will never get a lunch carved into silly shapes. She will never get to lay next to her mommy or daddy at nighttime. She will never get to do a tot tray or play with a sensory bin that I've stayed up all night preparing despite earning the reputation as a "Pinterest mom." And so I'm okay with it and any other name anyone wants to call me -- because those names, they're all a gift that I'm never going to take for granted.

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