Her new mattress lies in the next room. She knows it is hers and I know it is hers, but the transfer has yet to be made. I’m still clinging fierce to these last baby days. “rock rock” she says and we curl into the chair in the corner of her room. “Yes little one, yes, let’s rock.“ Prayers are said and lullabies sang. My eyes adjust to the darkness and I can see the gentle flutter of wings above her crib. Sweet butterflies that have drifted my babies off to sleep now for almost four years.
My heart catches in my throat as I watch them because it is another reminder of all that is coming to an end. These last precious baby days for this sweet second one.
Her breathing slows, her little body relaxes and I feel her melt into my chest. But does she know how deeply she has melted into my heart? She is already on to dreams, but still I rock. Savoring the moment, this holy, sacred moment of motherhood, for who knows if I will have this joy again?
I lay her down and push aside the soft wisps across her forehead. I brush pass the butterflies and say to myself, how silly is this? That these little butterflies are my excuse for keeping her in this crib. But I’m not ready to pack them up, not ready to say goodbye, unsure if they will ever again dance one of my babies to sleep.
What if the next one is a boy?
What if there is no next one?
We are so bold to assume God’s blessings for us.
In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp writes:
Love’s a deep wound and what is a mother without a child and why can’t I hold on to now forever and her here and me here and why does time snatch away a heart I don’t think mine can beat without?
A heart I don’t think mine can beat without.
I’ll second an amen to that.
It seems almost cruel, motherhood. To force a little soul so violently upon another without full preparation, having to learn as we go. I often think back to those first few days and weeks after we brought Anna Cate home from the hospital. How completely taken by surprise I was at the sheer work of it all. How much she interrupted life, but in the most beautiful way. And to laugh now at just how little work she really did require then.
Oh how far I have come, and yet, how much further I still have to go.
Yes, motherhood is a process. The learning process of true sacrificial love. The harder we work to perfect it, to get it right, the faster the sand slips through the hourglass until it is time to let go completely. And when that day comes, I fear that the more I have offered of myself, the deeper in love I will have fallen, and the harder my heart will break into a thousand little pieces when she says goodbye.
We continue on with the process because there is no turning back. We are taking baby steps, both of us, baby steps. Daily tiny steps towards independence.
She struggles with her pants, “mine, mine” she says. Her way of letting me know that she wants to do it herself. And she shines bright when finally they are pulled up high to her waist. No matter that they are mixed up, back to front, but she is so proud and I soak up her joy. There is a slight wince at the independence, but I bury it fast, under a beaming smile for her accomplishment. “What a big girl to dress yourself!” and she squeals delight. When did this baby grow into a little girl and how so suddenly?
I know that I am richly blessed and I know these days are precious and fleeting, but knowing it doesn’t seem to help slow the time down.
Oh how to make the time slow down?
My heart asks over and over again. But all I hear, echoed in my heart, is one of my most favorite verses. One so quietly slipped in between the hurrying and excitement of the shepherds.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19
Maybe this is the only salve for this paradox of motherhood, love’s deep wound. To treasure them up, the little daily gifts we are given in the moments with our children. To consciously gather them together, treasure them up so that we have them to gratefully ponder in our heart and awfully wonder at the beauty of the gift.