There are moments, like the other night, where I feel like I’ve been granted a glimpse into heaven. I hear the startled cry of Bella, who was asleep but has suddenly woken up. It’s a different cry, the kind where you instinctively know as a mother that your child is afraid.
In an instant, I’m in her room as she stands sobbing in her crib, paci in hand. I pick her up with a, “Lovey, what is it?” and she wraps her arms around me.
Not usually a very cuddly child, because she’s so busy being, well, busy, I treasure the moment. She is still upset, so I head to our rocker and curl up in it as her head lays against my shoulder.
As we sit, I softly sing to her “You are my sunshine” just like my mom sang to me. I start to reflect on the year past, how she used to fit completely in my arms and now her legs hang over them. How she would nuzzle my shoulder to nurse, and now can hold her own sippy cup. How peekaboo meant my face was gone forever to her, and now she finds me easily at hide and seek.
The days I thought would never end? They did. And in many ways, I have regrets over the past year. Probably like any mother. I wish I had really lived in the moment with her baby-ness. That I had never taken for granted her complete need for me at that time. That I had slowed down a little and soaked in every minute of being a new mother, and realized just what that meant.
But I can’t dwell on that, because in those moments, I did the best I could. And I learned from them. As we sit and rock together, I cherish her toddlerhood. I stop a lot more these days and simply enjoy her. I study her as she plays. I play with her. Long days indoors with cold weather are a reason to slow down and be a mama. She watches my every move, so I chatter away while cooking or cleaning so she feels like she is part of the process. She is my little shadow, a tiny me that I’ve come to love in a way I never even knew existed.
There are days I snap, times I grow frustrated with the squealing for things I can’t figure out, or the half hour naps that end right as I get in the shower. There are evenings as we get ready for bath that I remind myself, “Half hour to go.” Mornings where I pray for one more hour of sleep.
But in this moment with the darkness, the rainfall on her white noise, the perfect baby hand in mine and the soft sigh of contentment that she makes, nothing else matters. Regrets, tiredness, frustration, and failures all fade away. For this instant, we both have a brief glimpse of heaven.