It’s the night that he’s four years, 362 days old. Big brother and dad have set off for Pitching camp. The time change has not been kind to us, so we’re heading to bed early in the quiet house. He puts on his light blue doggie feetsie pajamas and we brush, floss, and settle into his bed to read stories and then tell some. This time together has become more rare; big brother has somewhat replaced me in the bedtime routine department. The two of them often read and then chat and laugh themselves to sleep, reminding me of bedtime with my sister. But tonight it’s just the two of us and I’m grateful for the time.
After we’ve told stories, said prayers and turned out the lights, I rest beside him quietly and listen to him breathe. I know sleep is going to come quickly, he is simply too beat. So I listen. First a heavy, deep sigh. I rub his back and his soft doggie p.j.s, aware of the changing sounds of his breathing. Just like when he was teeny, I hear the subtle shifts that will clue me in to when he’s totally, fully asleep. But I just listen. I’m not in a hurry. I’m not thinking about the John Grisham book I want to finish. I’m not thinking about the dishes I need to do. I am just rubbing the plush p.j.s and listening to the miracle of his breath. I do this for a while and then am ready to slip out.
As I stand up beside his bed, I turn back, and that’s when I see it. That little infant face. The same little one that entered the world four years and 362 days ago. I sometimes forget that it’s there, but it always is. No matter how big they get, no matter how many years pass, no matter how old they are, that same peaceful baby-looking face is always there when they sleep. As they drift off into a restful slumber, their babyness is there in full view, and on this night, with just the two of us in the house, I am particularly grateful for that. And I’m thankful that I stopped and looked back to see it.
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Three days later, the morning of his 5th birthday, he opens up his family presents and is ready for a game of Monopoly Junior. He jumps up from his cozy, oversized new elephant chair and declares, “Oops, I forgot something.”
He throws his arms around me and gives me a giant squeeze.
“Thank you,” he says.
Brodster, thank YOU.
For all the joy you bring us, and for five years and two days of YOU.