Put him down. I’m told this on a regular basis. In fact, I’ve been told this on a regular basis since my first baby was born. Yet I didn’t. Put her down. Ever. Then with baby #2 I was cautioned again. Put her down. I couldn’t. I would miss something for sure.
I was wracked with guilt and plagued with fear about something terrible happening to me…to us, because I held my babies too much. I wasn’t sure if we would implode, explode or spontaneously combust, but I couldn’t stop. I was addicted. And they were too.
Then I noticed something strange. All of those well meaning voices cautioning, urging me to put her down, would allow a moment or two to elapse, then they would pick her up.
Baby #3. Put him down. He’s too big. He needs to crawl, walk, whatever. Put him down.
Then they would pick him up. I won’t say it was intentional, I can’t. Yet I would say its cultural.
And now I know.
I hold them. Each of them still. Maybe only for a moment here and there. If they are hurt, disappointed, sleepy, happy, nearby, accomplished. You name it, I will drop what I am doing and hold them. Now completely guilt free. They are well adjusted, socially balanced, independent, creative, confident, intelligent, silly, loving, occasionally cranky, stubborn, intense and periodically engage in meltdowns of epic and sometimes comical proportions. They are…wait for it…normal kids.
And I still hold them. I don’t carry them all…no way. Besides, I plank to strengthen my core, and I pray that God have mercy on my back. But I figure if we are going to do life together, the six of us, we might as well do it in close proximity to each other, while we still can.
As I type this I sit, holding my.last.baby.ever. And he is sound asleep.
I have grown completely accustomed to the pressure applied from the weight of his head against my chest. Him inhaling while I exhale and exhaling while I inhale. The soft melodic sound of breath passing through his tiny nose and the sucking sounds he still makes although he doesn’t breast feed anymore. I have grown accustomed to his scent and tiny body radiating so much heat that the both of us don’t need a blanket and our skin gets a little bit tacky from the sweat. I used to sit and try to figure out ways to get him off me and lay him down without waking him. But not anymore. I feel as though I’m on borrowed time. As long as he wants me to rock him to sleep, I will suck it up and do it…sans complaints.
I will breath deeply and memorize the sound of his breathing. I will dream of what kind of man he’ll become. I’ll think of how much more pressure the weight of his head against my chest now applies, and how it may be suppressing my lung capacity ever so slightly making my breathing a tad more shallow. I’ll think about everything. Everything, that is, except putting him down.