Somewhere between late at night and early in the morning my arms wrap around you, and we rock in this chair. Sometimes, you cry. Sometimes, so do I. This time is ours alone both beautiful and lonely.
When you cry uncertain of how to fall asleep, we rock, and I sing. I sing songs my mom sang to me rocking in another chair on another night not so long ago. I sing songs I learned on a quiet evening overlooking a lake at summer camp, and I hum the wordless melodies from my own heart.
Like you, I feel tired, and like you, when I feel very tired, I cry. I feel uncertain of how to find moments for sleep. I feel overwhelmed at the responsibility of caring for one so small. I wonder how I will answer your years of youthful questions spoken and unspoken when I do not know the answers myself. I wonder how to keep you safe in a world full of uncertainty and change. I wonder, and I worry.
Several weeks ago, my mom sat with me as I nursed and rocked you late into the night. I wonder what she saw as she watched her adult daughter soothing her granddaughter. Did she wonder how the slow moments had passed so quickly? Did she see herself in me and me in her? She did not tell me, and I did not ask. But, her presence comforted and calmed me just as it had decades ago in a rocking chair. She no longer sang me “Silent Night”, but she sat in the quiet darkness with me. She did not give me answers to my questions, but she gave me permission to ask them, to doubt, to wonder, and most importantly, to grow. Because my dear daughter, growing never stops. It always takes struggle and effort. It requires you to push and reach into places you have never been. Sometimes, growing feels exciting. Sometimes, it feels frightening. Mostly, it feels a little of both.
Your mind will never remember these moments which, strung together, make up long, short nights, but I hope your heart never forgets. I have whispered, “I love you,” countless times, and I will whisper it countless more. I say your name aloud as I run my fingers through your silky, soft hair. Your milky breath, emitted like little puffs of clouds while you sleep on my shoulder, smells better than fields of flowers. Your features, so tiny and so perfectly human, give me reason to marvel, not once or twice but for the rest of my life.
So, my smallest one, keep reaching and keep growing. Feel excited, and feel afraid. Cry, giggle, doubt, and wonder. Whether rocking you now or someday watching you as the rocker, my own adult daughter, at you I will always love and marvel.