My dear, sweet, stunning little girl,
As we lay here, snuggled up tight in our bedtime routine, I watch you slowly drift off to sleep. I watch as your muscles – the ones that let you be the strong, quick, flexible dancing fool you were just minutes ago – relax with each breath, with each quiver of your cheeks as you nurse yourself to sleep. I am in awe of the trust you have in me, the comfort my breast can provide for you.
This night is not extraordinary. It is the same as so many nights before it. In fact, in one month you will be two, and we have spent every night since you came home from the hospital in this very same way – V and mommy, snuggled and nursing. The place and position changes, but the method does not. Our bond does not.
We spend a few minutes gazing at each other, finally pausing after a long and busy day, reconnecting in comfort and quiet. I love these moments. Even the air seems to pause, as if enveloping us in our own little balloon of peace, the universe giving us this time together. Mother and child.
Tonight you are overtired and a bit restless. You are kicking my legs, not hard, but in an obvious attempt to stay awake. We talk about it. We don't kick people. It's time to rest and relax, to recharge through the night. Your kicking turns into fidgeting. Your pace slows, and you are starting to settle in. We sigh together. Sometimes relaxing can be hard.
But for some reason I keep noticing your feet. I feel their presence on my thigh – no, my knee. When did you get so big you stretch down to my knees? How are you already this big? As you continue to nurse off to dreamland, I am fixated on this enormous change.
These feet that were once so small within my womb I couldn't feel them. These feet whose movements were the first sign of your activity I could physically feel. These feet that grew and grew until I watched them within me, watched with awe and dreamed of whether you would be a dancer or a climber or a runner. These feet that proved you would certainly have rhythm as you made your presence known to my bladder. These feet that were once so tiny.
These feet that we kissed over and over once you were earth-side. These feet we snuggled and rubbed, carefully washed and counted toes. These feet that grew out of socks and booties, signalling gradually your newborn days were ending. These feet that played piano as you lay on your back and kicked. These feet that launched you into crawling, then cruising, standing, walking, and running. These feet that propelled you into our arms, that flew out from under you, slipping and sliding. These feet that have ouchies and nails that need clipping. That tickle and wiggle and help you act silly.
These feet that first stretched no further than my waist as you snuggled up close and nursed all day. Then down to my hips, then my thighs, now my knees.
My darling daughter, I love these feet. I love the creative ways you use them. I love the adventure they bring out in you, and the rhythm you use when dancing the way you do.
These feet will take you places from your dreams. They'll be with you in rain and mud, snow and sleet. These feet will be aching and bruised reminders of playtime and exploring. These feet will carry you everywhere you want to go as you learn to make sense of this big wide world.
But all too soon, these feet will bare the marks of shoes better suited for photos than errands, stubbed toes from school desks, pinches and sprains, strains and breaks. Soon these feet will reach all the way down to mine as we snuggle and let our days melt away in peace.
Little V, these feet may carry you on journeys far, far from home – to schools, jobs, or relationships you will find on your way. But I hope and I pray, this and every day, these feet will always bring you back.
For whether these feet reach my waist or way down past my toes, you will always have a place to snuggle and a warm spot in our home.
Baby feeding is not about sticking a certain amount of rice cereal down my baby's throat to fill him up; it’s about introducing him to a world of new flavors and textures.
It takes a village!
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