“Hold my hand,” the request comes at 4 a.m., an hour before I have to wake up for work.
With my right arm tucked under my 1-year-old, I lift my left arm from under the warm covers and place my hand on that of my eldest daughter’s.
She grabs it tight; her little palm in mine.
For the past few weeks my 3 year old has run from her room down the hall to our bedroom. She climbs on the bed pulling the covers off me and my husband, wiggling between us, taking some of our pillow before laying down between us.
With her on my left, it is second nature to shift her younger sister to my right side so that I am boxed in between my children.
It’s funny that I once worried that being born an only child meant I would someday end up alone. But with two young children I’m almost never myself.
Some mornings the infant’s request to be nursed is trying. Sometimes I don’t want to share a pillow or my body with a tiny little person who won’t take no for an answer. Other times, hearing my toddler’s voice call out for me in the middle of the night fills me with so much love I don’t know what to do with all of it.
“Hold my hand,” a simple request.
During the day this little girl asking me to hold her hand can be incorrigible, rarely taking no easily. She talks back, questions everything and instructs us to let her do things by herself, or rather “on my own.”
At night she loves to be hugged and kissed while being tucked into bed; pulling her My Little Mermaid comforter up to her chin. I used to be the one to put her to bed by nursing her when she was an infant, than reading to her at night when she transitioned to a toddler bed. Now she asks for her dad, her nana and very rarely for me.
“Will you check on me,” she used to ask when I’d make for the door, worried I’d somehow forget she was down the hall.
“Always,” I’d tell her. And I would.
Some nights I would watch her sleeping standing outside the bedroom painted a creamy pink. Other nights I’d tiptoe to her bed, sit down beside her and watch her sleep. Amazed that this little girl who only an hour ago was playing tag with the dogs, was finally at rest. Breathing softly, her mouth agape, eyes fully closed, beautiful
I miss those evenings when it was just us two reading a book or whispering what she may dream about when she closes her eyes.
It appears those moments are back; if only for a short time.
In bed, with her hand in mine, I lay silently listening for her breathing to slow and her grip on my hand to loosen. With the warm breath of her sister on my neck and the clammy – always clammy – feel of her hand on mine; I close my eyes and wait to be lulled to sleep by the melodic rhythm of my daughter’s breathing.