She’s asleep in my arms – out cold. Her head’s resting in the crook of my elbow and her body’s completely relaxed. As I watch her chest rise and fall I can feel each one of her tiny breaths filling and deflating her little lungs. There’s rhythm and cadence to her breathing. Inhale (two, three, four). Exhale (two, three, four).
Before I know it, my breathing matches her’s. We’re in sync. My eye lids get heavy and slowly start to fall. It’s a father’s dream to watch their child fall asleep in their arms and catch a nap at the same time.
But out of know where, something disrupts her rhythmic breathing just for a second and she squirms. I cease my breath trying to be as still as possible hoping that no white of her eyes will be seen. The moment is delicate. I remain stiff in my posture not to create any sudden movement, yet cradle her gently to make her feel as thought she’s sleeping on clouds.
Her breathing shudders. She inhales deeply, slowly exhales and the cadence resumes. Inhale (two, three, four). Exhale (two, three, four).
Every once in a while she’ll make a face or twitch. Is she dreaming? Does she feel a breeze sweep past her little button nose? Whatever it is, the peace and calm on her face is inviting.
I can’t resist. Confident her slumber is deep, I lean down to kiss her forehead certain it won’t wake her up. That would be devastating. Getting her to fall asleep in arms isn’t easy, she typically wants to play or read books. She’s fifteen months old and on the verge of walking. She doesn’t like to sit still and is busy, busy, busy.
The days of her falling asleep in my arms are just about over. There’s no guarantee I’ll get one of these moments again. If I could freeze this moment and bottle it up I would. I could sit here for days on end.
In the throes of raising kids it’s easy lose the foresight to recognize these moments as they unfold right in front of you. By the end of the day I’m ready for my kids to be in bed. I’m ready for my parenting responsibilities to be over so that I can have my time and do what I want.
But the cliché is true, the years are short and the days are long. Our kids grow up way to fast. There’s going to come a time, and I fear it’s not that far off, when my heart will desperately long for a moment like the one described above. So in the mean time, instead of unintentionally wishing them away, I want my eyes to be wide open to them and my heart ready to receive them.
If our posture and outlook on parenting was geared more to search for and recognize these moments, perhaps, on the whole, we would start to see our kids in a different light. Rather than see them as an inconvenience and annoyance, we’d see them as a treasure and a delight – a precious possession we are lucky to have.
So keep sleeping little one. Sure, I got things to do, things I want to do, but they can wait for now. They’ll still be waiting when we’re done.