As I lay here with my daughter asleep across my lap, I am wondering how many times you held me like this and felt what I feel at this perfect moment in time. It's late - the other children are sleeping in their beds, and my little princess is sound asleep in my arms, peaceful and quiet - completely opposite from what she was during the day. Her age and innocence and dependence upon me shows in the softness of her little face, her big blue eyes closed against the night. Her blond hair is slightly matted with salt from her tears, as she awoke in her bed just a bit ago, crying and reaching out for me as traces of whatever terrors haunted her dreams still lingered on the backs of her eyelids. Sleepily, she snuggled in my arms when I went to her and picked her up. Calmly, she rested against me and I soothed her into a more restful sleep with "shooshing" sounds and gentle pats on her slender back.
Momma, I wonder how many times you did this for me, loving me and protecting me from the demons of the night. Helping me back to sleep with your quiet nature and gentle hand. I look at my beautiful little girl and think back to the time I found out I was pregnant with her - a time when it wasn't supposed to be - and how I made you cry when I told you. Do all children disappoint their parents? Will I ache over my children the way you have ached over us through the years? How will I have the strength to be what they need me to be, despite being hurt or angry over things they have done or said?
I think about this little being asleep against me on the couch and I am flooded with the memory of five years ago when she was still inside of me - a tiny baby wrapped in the secret darkness of my womb, growing and changing each day, living and breathing as part of me. I think about how if it were possible, I'd keep all my babies within me for their entire lives, because that's the only way I could protect them completely. Did you feel that way, Momma and if so, how did you get over the painful reality that this is just not possible; that it isn't the way God made things to be?
I wonder about so much - How you felt as a new mom, and as an experienced one. How you captured perfect little moments like this one. How you breathed in our scent as you held us against you, but found the strength to let us go when it was time to anyway. I wonder how I got to be in this place in time, with three babies of my own and another one on the way - a mommy myself, and a wife - trying to make my way through uncharted territory in sometimes wild seas.
And I wonder, will this small and fragile sleeping child cradled in my lap grow up and have babies of her own, feeling and wondering the very same things?