I watch as her jaw moves rhythmically, slowly nursing herself to sleep. She pauses, opens her eyes and tries to smile, still latched on. She sighs and her eyes flutter closed. For a second she looks like her sister. Memories rush back to me. I am so grateful to have these moments. I am so grateful for the calm after a crazy day. I am so grateful for these girls.
I could sit here forever, nursing the baby, snuggling the 4-year-old. These are the evenings I love. The chaos of our day is behind us; replaced with a calm only the sunset can bring. We all are able to take a collective deep breath. Sometimes just breathing together is enough. Some days feel like I am holding my breath, just waiting for a chance to gasp in some air.
Not all of our nights are this serene. We don’t always arrive at bedtime blissfully ready for slumber. Some nights are the opposite. Sometimes we come screeching in, covered in debris, kicking and screaming. Sleep becomes a game of keep away and I am losing, horribly.
Those are the nights that I collapse on the couch after the girls are asleep. Those are the nights that I try to recollect a time when evenings didn’t require top-notch negotiation skills. I have foggy memories of watching movies without animation and sleeping when I became tired. Now, there are nights I hide in the bathroom and brush my teeth extra long. The running water acts as white noise and cancels out the requests for water, snacks, and just one more story.
Then these evenings happen. We find our groove. These are the nights that remind me that I do not, in fact, wish for anything else. I don’t long for the nights of my past. No, I want the one filled with the chaos and debris. I want the milk-drunk smiles and movie watching snuggles, even if the star is a talking pony.
Both girls are asleep now. I am writing this in quiet stillness. Morning will come soon and the beautiful cacophony of having two children will rise with the sun.
Sure, I am exhausted and my house isn’t as tidy as I would like. I am in desperate need of a manicure and a shower that isn’t invaded by a three-foot tall interrogator with the world’s smallest bladder. I could use a day or seven to sit and write and sip hot coffee. Or even just curl up and read a book that doesn’t rhyme.
If I was to be completely honest though, I am not ready for that. I am not ready for the stillness that comes with grown children. I am not ready to pee alone or read prose with multi-syllabic words. I am not ready to move past these moments that are the results of my dreams, hopes, and wishes.
If only I could freeze tonight and put it in a locket around my neck. Hold it close. Draw power from it when all hell breaks loose and bedtime becomes an extreme sport and I the referee. If only.
Instead, I will enjoy this moment, the stillness, and the quiet. I will watch television shows with a plot line. I will have a conversation with my husband and not repeat myself 10 times. I will write this piece and skim through a magazine. I will pee alone.
And by morning I will be recharged. I will be ready for a day filled with chaos and laughter, arguments and tears. I will be ready to face a day filled with love and debris.