Life gets so messy. The older we get, the messier it seems. In 34 years my heart has been crushed, lifted, divided, lost, shattered and redeemed many times over. My heart; it is a weathered and worn thing that knows so much more than I.
I heard a saying once that having children is like forever letting your heart walk around outside of your body. That sums it up as best as anything I know. I remember feeling this exact thing shortly after my daughter was born. It was both wonderful and terrifying in equal measures. I finally felt love in its most pure form, and I also knew I had no control over it whatsoever. What a dichotomous thing this parent/child relationship can be.
Both of my children have been difficult sleepers. Both were colic and both still resist sleeping as if it were the worst thing to ever happen to them. Who knows? Maybe in their world, it is? I have spent hundreds of nights holding them in pitch-black rooms humming, bouncing, shifting from foot to foot, willing them to sleep with my mind. Most nights I have taken this for granted: lost in thought of what still needs to be done that day.
But last night, as I held my 15 month old son’s limp body in my arms in his pitch-black room, I remembered the one thing that never fails to bring me into presence with him. He is likely my last baby.
As I stopped my mind from thinking about the laundry that must be folded and the dishes in the sink, I came–my heart came to be inside that room with him. There was no light and the only sound was the humming of a fan. I had no thoughts to distract me from that moment; it was just me, holding him–his heart wrapped in mine-all inside my arms. It was as complete a feeling as I can imagine.
He is not even two. His life is not messy. His heart is not fractured in the slightest way and he does not worry about all the toys he has yet to play with the next day. He is as whole and pure as each of us are when we come into this world. He and his sister, they are present with me always. Their needs are many, but they are basic and easily fulfilled. They do not fret about tomorrow or yesterday and this child’s perspective is a gift I get everyday.
While holding him I felt a quick pang of sadness that he will be my last. That my days of holding his whole heart in my arms are numbered. That there will be a day when I look at him and I know his thoughts and his whole heart are not in the room with me, but divided.
Knowing that these are things I cannot control, I tried to focus on something bigger than worry… this moment, and my gratitude for it. Grateful that I am able to hold all of him, his whole heart and mine inside my arms, inside one dark room, if only for a few minutes each night as he drifts off to sleep.
Holding your sleeping child in your arms is a powerful thing. I obviously don’t know this… but my heart does. And for that, I am eternally grateful.