Bedtime is not a quick ‘n easy procedure in my house.
Because we usually eat fairly late, all together as a family (around 7:30 every night), a traditional leftover from my husband growing up on a farm and something that lets me squeeze in another hour of work, the after-dinner hours become a blur of clean-up, baths, and bedtime.
And while sometimes, I definitely wish I could fast-forward through the process, there is one thing that I will never skip out on.
Rocking my baby to sleep.
It never fails, our little bedtime routine. From first baby to the fourth to come, a simple ritual to gently wind down the night and hope for a peaceful night’s sleep. (Ok, maybe a few prayers thrown in there too!)
Bath time, maybe with or without siblings, followed by fresh pajamas (the cuter, the better), hair brushed, teeth combed, lotion rubbed in the dry winter months. And then it begins, the elusive hunt for the silkiest blankie we can find, all the better for snuggling and wrapping up cozy in.
Picking out the perfect book comes next, and we all might pile on the bed together to read a story together as a family. And then, after prayers and lights out for the older kids, it’s baby time.
If I’m nursing a baby, I’m the go-to for putting the baby to bed; I’ve always nursed my babies before bed and many time they drift off, still in my arms.
But once the nursing ends, I can’t bear to part with the precious time alone with my little one.
So we rock.
As light fades into night and day turns into dreams, we rock.
No matter what kind of crazy beautiful the hours before have been, no matter how often I wondered why on earth anyone thought I was meant to be a fit mother, no matter how much I wished for the very hour of bedtime, all that matters is sitting in that moment with my baby in my arms.
I love the feel of the heavy weight on me, growing slowly every week, every month, until at long last, I am shocked when I try to hoist my little one on my lap.
I love the complete trust that is given to me, when a soft little cheek lays on my shoulder and sighs in contentment, a perfect echo of my own.
Tears prick my eyes as I try to memorize every eyelash, every spot of dimpled skin, every sweet smell of my baby, growing up too soon.
Because before I know it, my lap will not contain that jumble of arms and legs that I once held close within me. Cribs will be outgrown and our bedtime ritual will change as I tuck in and kiss good night.
But right now?
Right now we rock.