So it turns out, I don't mind it all that much. Every night his chubby hand reaches for mine and he asks, "You lay down by me?" We've both settled into it nicely, now. And even though the sky is still bright as the days linger longer, we lay down. A few books between us, cars and trucks jumbled in blankets. I lay down by him and he turns to his side, snoring. Asleep in no time.
We are in the rhythm. He's our last, you see. No more babies.
It's a remarkable feeling, actually; freeing and contented. I didn't think I'd ever know with sureity. But the second he left my body and entered the world, I knew this was it. We felt complete and just like that, we were done.
I thought I'd correct all my mistakes, redeem all my failures with this third baby. I embraced the inner earth mama, waist deep in cloth nappies and pureed organic blueberries. I am gonna do right by this one, at least, I thought. But co-sleeping and nursing on demand was not as romantic as it sounds (what? that doesn't sound romantic?) and when he self-weaned at nine months, I was sad, but secretly somewhat relieved. I was done with all that now. I am done.
Except, now he's almost done, too. With babyhood. He's leaning into the preschool years, testing his speed and growing his words. And I'm beginning to grieve a little bit. For not getting it all right in the beginning, for the lost months of nursing, for the era that's now come and gone, too soon. Babyhood is waning. At three-and-a-half, it's actually mostly gone.
We are done, and now I make peace with the grieving.
So, when he falls asleep in my arms as we cuddle after bathtime, I breathe in his hair. I take photos everytime those lashes stop moving. I lay down next to him in the cozy twin bed, listening as his snores sing me a lullaby. I am perfectly content to be here, in these fading moments of babyhood, committing his eyelashes to memory, the fullness of his cheek still round with baby fat.
I don't mind it, these final acts of co-dependence. I'm not allowing regret any more leeway. I will lay by his side, until we are done.