Most nights as I put my daughter to bed, rocking her to sleep in the darkness, I find my mind wandering to all the things I still need to accomplish once I put her to bed. Writing my mental to-do list, if you will. I can’t forget to throw that load of laundry in the dryer. I need to make sure I finish that lesson plan. I really should mop the kitchen tonight if I have time. As a busy working parent, the mental to-do list is never ending, and my mind is always taking inventory of all that I’ve accomplished, and all I’ve yet to get done.
But tonight as I rocked my daughter in the darkness and my mind started to drift, I looked down at my daughter’s legs, which now stick out past my arms when I cradle her in the rocking chair. I recalled how, seemingly just yesterday, my arms could wrap completely around her tiny little body. She used to lie in my arms, swaddled tightly like a little burrito, and her entire body would fit perfectly in my arms. I blinked, and somehow my tiny, sleepy newborn became a sweet, but strong-willed toddler.
Tonight, I stared down at her little face in the darkness, forgetting the list of things I wanted to accomplish once I put her to bed. I watched her little eyelids flutter as she fought sleep, and I recalled all the sleepless nights we spent in this rocking chair. I remembered rocking her back to sleep on that very first night home from the hospital, so overwhelmed with love and joy, but also plagued with exhaustion. I thought of all the nights between then and now that we’ve spent in this rocking chair. The tough, sleepless nights – through growth spurts, teething, and colds – and those sweet and easy nights where she drifted to sleep effortlessly and slept the whole night through.
Tonight, I watched her eyelids become heavy as she drifted off to sleep, and I snuggled her a little tighter and rocked her a little longer. The days have flown by since we brought this tiny little blessing home, and I know that time is never going to slow down. I know that there will come a day in the not-too-distant future where my precious little girl won’t want her mama to rock her to sleep anymore. She won’t want to hear Goodnight Moon for the one millionth time. She won’t want me to kiss her forehead and wish her sweet dreams before tucking her into bed.
So tonight, I made sure to be present in the moment rather than letting my mind wander to the next item on my to-do list. I watched my precious girl fall asleep in my arms, and I savored every moment of it. I rocked her and rocked her and then rocked her some more. I stared at her sweet face, wishing I could freeze this moment and keep her my baby forever. But I know that time will never slow down, and I know that the future will bring new and exciting things as well. But for the time being, I’m going to enjoy where we are right now, and do my best to just BE in the moment. Because the laundry will still be there in an hour or two, and if the floors don’t get mopped until tomorrow, no one is going to die. Right now, just being here in this rocking chair with my baby is the most important thing in the world.