My Sacred Momma Ritual

Every night, just before I go to bed myself, I peek in on my boys, fast asleep in their bedrooms. I turn the knob slowly, out of old habit from the days when disturbing their slumber might mean an hour of rocking someone back to sleep, and I make my way quietly to their beds.

It is been my ritual for years now, since Zip moved from the bassinet beside our bed to his own room.

Sometimes, even though the risk of SIDS has long passed, I still put my hand on the small of their backs, waiting for the rhythmic up-down that reassures me they are still breathing and - if I don't quite trust what I feel - I lower my face to feel the warmth of their breath. I tell myself that this checking somehow wards off harm and helps to keep them safe.

I pull the covers up and over them, marveling at bodies that used to curl up in the corner of a crib and now stretch across the bed, all arms and legs.

If that body hangs too close to the edge of the bed, I gently lift legs and roll shoulders, making sure there will be no thump in the middle of the night.

I take note of their faces, the sweet way their lips part and the beautiful curve of their noses against the pillow. The peace on their faces illuminates the lingering vestiges of baby, even in my 7-year-old.

Sometimes Zip mumbles in his sleep and I listen harder, hoping he'll sleep-talk again, so I can entertain him in the morning by sharing whatever I have heard.  Or he might open his eyes and lift his head from the pillow, a confused look on his face. It's just me, baby. It's just Momma. Go back to sleep. 

Sometimes Bee wakes a little and snakes his arm around my neck, pulling me close, just like he did when we would nap together in his toddler days. I snuggle my face next to his for a moment, paying extra attention to the softness, breathing it in.

Sometimes I crawl into bed with one of them, wrapping my arms around them, thinking maybe I should lay here all night, because a few minutes of holding them beside me will never be enough.

I stand in the dark of their rooms and take a mental snapshot to store in the archives of memory and pull out one day long from now, when they have grown even taller and older and sleep in beds far away.

In the quiet of the room, where the chaos and frustrations of the day are long forgotten and only peace remains, my love swells and fills the space, and deeply I breathe it in.

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