I held you just a little longer
Simply because I could.

In one hand, you used to fit;
Not even six pounds when we brought you home
With wrinkly and squirmy limbs
That moved about as you’d nuzzle me,
Your mama
Looking up at me, milk-drunk, eyes rolling back to sweet slumber
I would listen for those deep, even breaths all new parents long for
And declare silent victory … [for two to three hours at least]

You were intoxicated by my milk,
And I was intoxicated by you
Your sweet baby breath and
Tiny furnace of a body pressed up against me,
Begging me to love you
But never needing to ask
(It was love at first heart beat)
Your jerky arms and legs that poked me in the womb
Now wiggled on the outside; your first gestures of independence from me
And it’s only just begun.

19 months later, your still-tiny but now toddler-sized body drapes over mine as we rock in your glider,
Your arms and legs — still cuffed by delicious rolls of baby fat — getting longer, leaner by the day
Your head — now covered in beautiful blond locks — nestles on my shoulder
Your breath soft, sweet, rhythmic
As I whisper, “I love you, I love you, baby, I love you …” to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine”
It’s our little ritual.
I think you’re asleep, but don’t want to let go.
You must know this
You lift your head up and grin at me,
Seven little white teeth and double-dimples showing; nose wrinkling in delight
And you say, ever-so-softly, “Mama” — a word I might never get sick of hearing
I smile back at you, Eskimo kiss you, and you lay your head back down

I know you don’t need to be rocked; you’re a big girl now

Even still, we rock
And you hug your toy seahorse a little closer
As he emits a familiar faint glow around the room
[Reminding me of those first few months of sleepless nights and blurry days;
When this lullabye seahorse was our only saving grace]
I sneak a peek over my shoulder
Your eyes are closed tight, eyelashes no longer fluttering
Into your crib you go,
Still asleep, crawling into that familiar pose on your belly
Tush in the air, legs tucked under, clutching your seahorse
I lay a blanket on your back
Whisper “Sweet dreams, Maya.”
And look forward to doing it all over again tomorrow,

These sweet moments won’t last forever.

So tonight
I held you a little longer.
Simply because I could.


8 thoughts on “Tonight

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