It was my turn to put you to bed tonight. Lately your mother and I have had mixed feelings about this experience, you have not been very cooperative. You and I got a bottle ready. We made our way to your bedroom, closed your door and your curtains, and started our ritual of getting you to sleep.
Over the past months since you were born I have come to think of this time as both a time of joy as well as a time of worry. Looking into your little face as you hungrily drink your dinner I reflect on the day’s events, particularly those involving you. However, I also find myself looking to the future and fearing that I will not be a good father or something will happen to me and I will not be around to see you grow and have a family of your own. Never the less your baby babble and warmth brings me back into the moment and I enjoy our time together in the now.
After you finished your bottle we rocked together for a while. You laid your head on my shoulder, squirming to find your little niche. Finally, after your breathing had slowed and steadied, I carried you to your crib and laid you down as slow and carefully as possible. I was sure to support your neck so that your head didn’t flop over as I lowered you from my shoulder. As soon as your body touched the mattress your eyes opened and the water works start flowing.
I wish I knew what it was that upset you so much about even the idea of laying in your crib. I have no doubt it is because your mother and I have been so accommodating of your desire to sleep close to us, something I will write to you about another time. It seems that as long as you think I am going to leave you in your room by yourself you cry, even scream your disapproval.
I stayed in your room, next to your crib trying to calm you so that you could sleep. Rather than have you yelling until your throat is raw I kneeled down beside your crib and as if you knew my intention you immediately ceased your cries. Instead you became very interested in your crib and blanket. You began crawling from side to side showing me how grownup you are becoming. After several minutes of wordlessly watching you and reassuring you that you are ok, I decided to start working my way out of your room. While you were turned away I sat down on the floor where you could not see me. It didn’t take long for you to notice that I was no longer watching over you and without hesitation you began to softly vocalize your disapproval. However, you are a clever little girl and you knew that I didn’t go out the door, you would have heard or seen me do that. With slow deliberation you worked your way back over to the railing and with great care lifted yourself to your knees to peer over.
Your smile is magical to me. No matter what the situation, no matter how tired or haggard I may be feeling, the sight of your smile makes it all go away. The unconditional love we feel for each other is so powerful it could move worlds.
For the next few minutes you continued to crawl around in the crib stopping every once in a while to look over the railing and make sure I was still there, giving me a smile every time. Eventually I started watching you from under the railing. You were playing with your Baby Einstein Sea Dreams toy. You had just discovered the button that allows you to turn on the light but not the music and motion. You already knew about the button that turns on everything at once but you didn’t understand the difference. You kept looking from the new button to the window and back, trying to figure out why the fish weren’t moving. Eventually you decided you should try the other button you already knew about.
Watching you discover the world, solve problems, and learn is amazing to me. You are such a smart little girl. You have so much potential. It’s my job to make sure you have every possible opportunity to be the best person you can be. It is a big challenge, probably the most difficult thing I will ever do, but it is also the most important thing I will ever do.
While you were working on your problem I brushed my finger tips against your hand which was holding one of the bars of your crib. You looked at me, smiled, and then you melted my heart. You reached your hand through the bars and gently caressed my arm. It was a slight and brief gesture but for me it meant everything and it lasted a lifetime.