Tonight I rocked you. It wasn’t the plan, and it hadn’t been the routine in over a year. But as I crawled into bed to cuddle you to sleep your little voice pleaded, “Mama, you rock me? You rock me back forth, back forth, back forth?”
I was tired. I pulled you into my arms and begrudgingly began to slowly move back and forth when you added, “No, mama. You hold me. You rock me on ground. Like this.”
Your little bare feet slid over the bed and landed on the plush carpet. You held out your arms and slowly began to sway, your eyes never leaving mine as you demonstrated your request.
I sighed and rolled out of bed. My back ached from having stood in that very spot for the past three hours trying to rock your new baby sister to sleep. I knew now what you were wanting—you were wanting to be the baby again.
You were asking to be held and rocked, but what you truly wanted was to feel secure and loved and noticed.
“OK, I’ll rock you three times,” I said wearily, determined to validate your place but also feeling the aching of my own muscles. You smiled.
I held you, and your sweet voice began to count your promised three rocks “One, two . . .”
And then something happened. Suddenly, at that moment, I became profoundly aware of how fast the time was slipping through my fingers. Your head didn’t fit quite the same on my shoulder as it used to. Your legs stretched further than I remembered. Your arms encircled my neck instead of being buried in your chest or mushed in your mouth.
You used to fit perfectly in my arms, a tiny head nuzzled in my neck, your knees tucked up against my chest. We had spent hours in this sacred place, rocking, swaying, humming, me pleading with your infant self to just go to sleep. How long had it been since we struggled through one of those long nights? I couldn’t remember.
And I strangely found myself longing for the moments I used to wish away.
I don’t know how long I ended up rocking you. When you got to three and realized I was still rocking, you smiled, settled your little head in, and together we continued in that gentle motion. I hummed your old lullaby song. Our song.
Somehow at that moment, with you in my arms, everything else melted away. It didn’t matter that the day had been marked with tantrums and outbursts, demands and yelling, all the signs that the “terrible twos” were in full force. When you asked for a rock, for a reminder to be the baby, all the memories of you as a baby flooded me in the most bittersweet way.
At last, you had nearly dropped off, so I laid back down in your “big boy bed” with you. Your eyelids dropped and your little hands absently played with my hair as you whispered, “I love you so much, Mama.”
Turns out we both needed this rock. This beautiful reminder of the bond between a mama and her baby was just what my heart needed. Next time you ask for a rock, I won’t sigh so heavily. My heart and my arms will always open for you.