Friday, June 15, 2012

When I was a kid I always shared a room with one of my sisters. That is the middle child’s lot in life. I remember moments when I wanted my own room. One time I attempted to move my bedtime stuff in the hall closet. I wedged my pillows, blankets and dolls in between the vacuum and the carpet cleaner and lay down for about 10 minutes before I got scared of spiders and climbed out. Another time I tried to convince my parents that I should move in to the storage room. There was already an old mattress in there, we just had to rearrange a little bit. But aside from those few moments I actually really loved sharing a room with my sisters. Annie, my older sister, was my main roommate. We had two twin beds that we would push together so that we could sleep back to back. We both had a fear of being on the floor when the door to the bedroom closed so we would slam the door and run as fast as we could across the room and dive in to the bed before the door closed and darkness filled the room and the scary things happening under our beds could get to our little feet. Annie would turn on our clock radio and we’d take turns scratching each others backs, legs, arms, feet, etc., one song per body part/person. Then we would lay down and Annie would talk. She would tell me, I’ll just talk for a while and you can go to sleep. She had stuff to get off her chest and didn’t care if her audience was awake or asleep. It’s ruined me with my husband who reminds me whenever I attempt to chit-chat before bed that ‘This isn’t a slumber party’. Annie and I had our own “language”. After getting in trouble multiple times for talking in bed we developed a system of snaps that would tell the other one what we had in mind. One snap: Lets lay back to back. Two snaps: Can I put my leg over you? Three snaps: Do you want to talk? Four snaps: I think I hear Mom. Once a week Wade plays music. He isn’t out late but he’s gone during the key bedtime moments and Henry has discovered that if Papa, his primary bedtime-putter-downer is gone, he can sneak out of bed and in to my room, where I am putting the baby down, without getting in trouble. Georgia likes to lay down with me and nurse and I always fall asleep putting her to sleep. Henry sneaks in to bed with his pillows, slides under the blanket and boom, he gets to sleep with Mama and she doesn’t even realize it until 2 am when the baby wakes up and she has a size 13 foot on her head and no blankets. I’ll be honest, it used to annoy me. I’d scoop Henry up and schlep him back to his own bed while the baby fussed in the other room. But I’ve recently had a change of heart and decided that once a week Henry gets to sleep with Mama. Since Wade is gone for some of the bedtime routine, I get to do the things with Henry that I used to do pre-baby, that were part of our routine and no big deal, but now that I do them once a week seem extra special. Like washing him off in the shower. Sure he can wash himself, that is if you want a little boy that smells exactly the same as he did before he got in the shower, water all over the floor and a half dozen strange concoctions made out of a mixture of soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners scattered around the shower. So we let him wash down first and then we go in for the extra scrub down. It used to drive me crazy to have to do this. Water would splash all over my arms and on the walls of the bathroom. Henry was squirmy and washing his hair was always a fight. But last night as I scrubbed him down I realized the beauty in it. As a parent, if you stop and think about what you’re doing and realize that none of it is permanent, you understand how important it is to be present in the moment. When I get frustrated with Henry sneaking in to the bed, I think to myself “When he’s 14 he won’t want to have anything to do with snuggling with Mama.” As I washed him last night I couldn’t believe how big my little boy has gotten. His long legs, covered with mosquito bites and scars and bruises from playing just a little too rough, fill the tub. His feet and hands have calluses. His hair is thick and rough, not fine and soft like it was when he was a baby. I wash his face and attempt count his freckles, we used to name each freckle, now there is more than I can count. His eyebrows have started filling in, just like his Papa’s. I’m struck by the rawness of the moment. He is utterly unselfconscious as he sits, naked, in the tub in front of me. I turn the shower off and he leans back in the water as it flows from the faucet. I turn the heat up and put my hand under the faucet and direct the water on to his back. Tiny goose bumps spread from his neck down his arms. He shivers and tells me how good it feels. I close my eyes and try to burn the moment in to my memory. The smell of clean, the sound of the water, the feeling of my little boy leaning on my hand, warm and relaxed. I love being his Mom. For some reason Henry always wants a hug as soon as he climbs out of the shower. I have to speed dry him as he leans in, in order to keep from having a soaking wet kid climbing up on my lap. I can never get him completely dry before he curls up on me. He barely fits on my lap these days. After the hug I finish drying him off, put on his PJ’s (underwear is his chosen bedtime apparel these days) and brush his teeth. His top tooth is wiggly. I have one child that is losing his teeth and one child that has her first tooth just breaking the surface. I love the age difference. Georgia is a wonderful reminder to me of Henry as a baby. She reminds me how quickly time passes. How much I need to slow down and enjoy the moments with him. She reminds me of how much he has changed. Her soft, brown baby hair reminds me of his soft, blond baby curls. Her sweet milk breath brings back memories of quietly nursing him in his tiny bedroom in our downtown apartment. He was such a gentle nurser. Only bit me once (I wish I could say the same about his little sister). Her noises are just like his used to be. Noises I would have surely forgotten if she wasn’t here. And he is a wonderful reminder to me to slow down with her. To give her an extra snuggle before I put her to bed at night, even if I’m tired and my back hurts. I will only be able to hold her like this for a few more months. It’s only a matter of time before I am washing her calloused feet in the bathtub. Last night, after Henry was dressed and brushed, he climbed in to bed with me. The baby was in her crib and I was absolutely exhausted…totally okay with going to bed at 8:30…so I curled up next to Henry. He said, “Mama give me your arm and I’ll massage it.” I gave him my arm and he scratched and tickled it just like Annie and I used to do. Then it was my turn. I scratched and tickled his arm and listened to him talk to me about how he felt during the day. I was getting sleepy but it was time to do the other arm, so we switched. Henry kept talking. My eyes could barely stay open but I am certain that I was smiling. After a few minutes he threw a leg over me and said, “Mama, will you sing me a song?” I sang You Are My Sunshine, our lullaby of choice, only with new, not sad lyrics. You are my Sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll always know, dear, how much I love you, because I’ll show you every day. The other night dear, while I was sleeping, I dreamt I held you in my arms, and when I woke up, I was so happy, cuz you were right there by my side. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll always know, dear, how much I love, because I’ll tell you every day. In the morning and in the evening, the afternoon and the night time too. Your love just lights up, my every moment and the sun comes shining through. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll always know, dear, how much I love you, because I’ll show you every day.