It's late. After several nights of almost laying down on top of him, I carefully slide my hands across my sheets to check for my son before crawling into bed. In the darkness, my hand fumbles onto a chubby calf that's too tiny and smooth to be my husband. Carefully, to avoid waking either of them up, I grope to figure out which end is my son's head and which are his feet.
He's curled into the fetal position—his butt high in the air with one foot sticking out akimbo. It's a configuration of limbs that I know well; it's exactly the way he floated in my belly during the last two months of my pregnancy. Gently rolling him to his back, I scoop him up under his shoulders and knees. Only just noticing the creak in my own knees as I squat to lift him, I pull him close to my chest and turn to carry him to his room.
He stirs, raising his head without really waking up. “Shhhh,” I whisper. “Mama's right here.” His neck goes slack again. He nuzzles into my shoulder.
I lay him onto his own cool sheets and his arms instantly shoot up in protest. “Uhhhh,” he whines, not even opening his eyes. Balancing carefully on less than a third of his twin bed, I lay down with him for a moment. He wiggles in next to me making my position even more precarious. His face is so close that we're breathing the same air. I know that if I actually go to sleep I'll crash off the bed onto the floor, but I take a chance and close my eyes for a few minutes.
“How much longer will we do this?” I wonder.
How much longer will he want his mama and papa to read and snuggle him to sleep? How much longer before his toddling arms and legs will be too long for me to lie next to him? How much longer before he'll be too heavy for me to carry between beds at night? How much longer before he stops padding into our room, quietly slipping in between us at three in the morning?
His breathing is even now, so I awkwardly slip my knees off the bed onto the hardwood floor. I sit there for a minute, watching him, with my elbows on the bed like I'm a child saying bedtime prayers. I eventually kiss his forehead softly and go off to my own sleep.
Whenever the end of this time may be, I'm glad it's not here yet.