The midnight candle flickers, and I hold my breath; I want these moments to last forever. At my keyboard in the dark of night, my solitude has been interrupted with an unusual visitor. A flurry of inspiration sent my dancing fingers flying, and as they moved, my desk chair scratched against the hardwood floor, sending a wretched noise through the small beach house. Reaching the room my baby sleeps, the noise wakes her, and, on cue, she stands in her crib to fill the house with shrieks that escape through the open windows out onto the streets. Now she is resting against my chest, sharing this sacred hour with me, the click-clack of my fingers on the keys are timed against her gentle breathing.
She calms immediately and closes her eyes, falling deep into her dreams. I cradle this little one-year-old, nuzzled into my chest, as if she were one-month-old again. Neck crooked, body limp, eyes closed and breath methodical, her porcelain skin and gummy cheeks lie malleable to the curves of my body, and her body curves to connect. I love these precious eyelids. Behind those curtains is a world of development, growth and processing taking place. They stay closed, protecting her from overstimulation and granting her rest and reprieve from the wonder of the previous day. I love the rhythm of her breath upon my chest; it is bliss. It lullabies me as I type, serenating me to think about the world and my place in it as this little child’s mother.
This overwhelm of love is hard to put to words. These are the moments that make up life, these are the moments that make life worth living, and all I can bear to think is how to make sure that I love this little girl well. That I was chosen to be her parent, to be her guardian, to be her model – my heart sighs at the prospect of this great commission. It burdens me and blesses me simultaneously, inviting me into the mysterious emotions intimate only to parents. I feel her purpose, her potential, and her place in this world – a world that needs the love and joy that emanates from her little heart, a heart I must care for, tend to and protect as she grows. I feel empowered and helpless, the conflict driving me to understand that only God can perfectly protect her and that by her merely being her, she is bring me closer to Him.
I love her humanness – her frumpled hair, her bad baby breath, her tender skin still stained with remnants of yogurt from dinner – it teaches me that it is our very humanness that makes us beautiful, not the idealized moments, but the raw, messy moments. These are the ones I find most beautiful. These are the ones I want to remember forever. She is in her safe haven, at my bosom, and when I sigh, her body sighs with mine. Resplendent, my heart feels, as her little body expands and contracts with each breath, matching mine. When our breaths align I feel the synchronicity of being pregnant again, connected in the utmost sense. I press my cheek to hers, and cheek to cheek it is impossible to keep your eyes open – the beauty of love we communicate through our skin is far too great, far too intense, far too beyond words for me to capture or be able to understand and fully feel with my eyes open.
There is no price you can put on the preciousness of sharing breath with a human being you formed – and there are, without doubt, generations of women who echo this sentiment as mystic truth. This is a gift of motherhood not often advertised, but quite possibly the very core of all creative and connective beauty. My heart cannot contain itself when I catch her in the fullness of youthful innocence. Her toddler curiosity and unabashed affability serenades my heart, an open invitation to the opening act of her personality and spirit. It makes me a privy witness to the development of her character, the first recipient of this great, deep and sincere love. It is this purity that is precious – every day, a gift, and it speaks to me because it is the little things that make it special, yet it is precisely the little things that are so difficult to articulate.
The open sound of her nasal inhalations inflates my heart with hope. It is a hope of remembrance. I want to freeze these little moments in time, and because I know I can’t, I write them so I won’t forget. These milk-stained moments entwine our souls as close as we can be to when we were once a part of one another. I will have to trust God now that these layers of skin separate us but, with this memory, a small piece of me will always be with her and her with me.