Snips And Snails, Sometimes Sweet

The Ponytail

Tonight around 10:30, I made my way to Sean’s room to turn off his lamp and to remove the dealership of matchbox cars from his bed as I do every night.

I looked down into his crib to see him sprawled out in his usual dramatic pose – his forearm draped over his forehead in the manner of Scarlett O’Hara, the other hand across his heart, pledging allegiance, legs bent and poised as though sprinting toward the river of crystal light. Just as I leaned over to cover him up, he opened his eyes and sighed in a low voice, “Hellwoe Mommy.”

“Sean! Why are you still awake? It’s late.” I whisper.

“I just can’t sweep,” he moans, exasperated. “My eyes just won’t stay shut.”

“Oh. Well, what if you and I sit in the rocker for a few minutes? Do you think that would help your eyes shut?” I ask him.

“Oh, yes!” he agrees. He bounds to his feet in one move and stands with his arms stretched out for me to lift him out of his crib. He’s too big to still be in a crib. I know that. But I don’t really care. He is my baby. My only baby. I’m in no hurry to rush him out of his babyhood. I am in no hurry to rush me out of his babyhood.

We stand there for a moment with the crib rails between us. I reach in and cup his face in my hands. I can’t resist rubbing my nose across his. I flash upon the memory of my own mother giving me an Eskimo kiss. He reciprocates leaving a trail of snot behind to tease me. “Yucky!” I say with mock disgust as I wipe my face on his pajama sleeve. He thinks this is funny. He throws his head back and laughs. I notice how his eyes make the shape of a rainbow and squint shut when he laughs. His whole face smiles when he is happy. Like an old fool, it makes my heart sing to think that I have amused him.

I lift him from his bed. He wraps his long legs tightly around my waist and nuzzles my neck and begins to play with my stubby graying ponytail. He smells of baby shampoo and lavender soap.

We sit in the rocker and slowly move forward and back to Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. I think of my wedding day and how in the amber glow of candlelight I floated down the aisle to this song. I think of the look on Antique Daddy’s face, the tears in his eyes, as he reached out for my hand. I had been moving towards that moment and then this one all of my life.

We continue to rock, his heart pressed against mine, his raspy little boy breath circling in my ear. He snuggles deeper into the soft nook under my ear and continues to flip and twirl my ponytail.


“Yes Sean?”

“Will you wear a pony tail tomorrow?” he asks sleepily.

“Okay. Sure. I’ll wear a pony tail tomorrow.”

“I want you to wear one every day,” he slurs. “I think you wook so boo-ooh-ti-fwuu-uhl in it,” he yawns.

“Okay then, a ponytail it is. Forever.”

He stroked and smoothed my ponytail until his busy little fingers slowed and then. Stopped. His hand went limp and fell to rest on my back with a gentle thump. Sleep had finally won. I don’t know how long I sat and rocked him, listening to him breathe, the essence of life flowing in and out of his lungs. Finally, I stood and lifted him back into his bed. He shifted until one arm draped across his forehead and the other across his chest.

As I reached for the lamp, I turned and took one last look at my baby. He really is getting too big for that crib. And then I turned out the lights on one more precious day of his babyhood.

Tomorrow I will wear a ponytail.

70 thoughts on “The Ponytail

  1. I was blog jumping, and I read this post. that is the sweetest thing I’ve ever read. It’s good to read a post about a mom who truly loves her child. I think I post way too many “I want to tear my hair out” posts! haha…thanks, it was good to read!

  2. That was beautiful. I’m going to keep Jensen in his crib until it no longer holds him. And I too, will continue to rock him until we break the chair from our combined weight.

    Sweet baby boys, with their freshly washed hair and soft breath. A slice of heaven, that’s what it is.

  3. Have you read the book, “I’ll Love You Forever, I’ll Like You for Always”? If not… you need to get it.

  4. Beautiful.

    Of all of babydom, I miss the crib the most…and those arms reaching out to me.

  5. I love this post. It reminds me of my little babies, who aren’t so little anymore. I, too, have kept my 2 year old in her crib longer than she needs to. She’s my “last baby” and as long as she still can fit in the crib and not climb out, she’ll stay there.

    And those outreached arms are one of my most favorite things. xoxo

  6. Aaaahhhhhh, that was beautiful! You constantly remind me to enjoy my girls. Too many times I sigh in frustration when I have to rock another girl to sleep because there is a load of laundry waiting. Thanks for reminding me to enjoy these rare quiet moments. I think I’ll go rock the baby to sleep right now!

  7. Three days ago I set up a toddler bed for my two year old. Every single night since then she has gone to sleep in it. And every single night since then I have gone into her room a couple hours later at MY bedtime and brought her back into my bed where she has slept with me for the past two years, ever since she came home from Ethiopia.

    I’m not quite ready to let go of this stage. And she may be my last baby, so dang it all, I am going to enjoy every minute of it.


  8. I think one of the best things about being blessed with an only child later in life is that you learn to savor each moment.

    You learn that there’s nothing better (and certainly nothing more important) in the whole wide world than singing and rocking your child to sleep one more time, knowing that the “one more times” will soon enough be winding down…

    Your little boy is all the better for not being rushed to grow up. He’s got the rest of his life to do that.

  9. Ohhhhhh, I wish my son and daugher in law could GET this. They keep pushing my almost two year old grandson to grow up.
    Just as I did with my son. But by the time his younger brother had come along(with a girl in between the two of them) I got it and just as you are now, I RELISHED the babyhood.
    Blessings to you.
    Nana Mary

  10. I kept my only little boy in his crib way too long also – and bawled the first night he slept in his “own big bed.”

    It gets even better as he gets older – but I do miss those “rocking” moments some days.

  11. This is the best thing you have ever written. It captures every single essence of motherhood and the sweetness of this time when our babies are still little.

  12. Your post is beautiful. It made me cry. I often do the same thing with my babies. I love to breath in their scent and cuddle with them in the rocking chair. It goes by too fast.

  13. Enjoy every single minute of your son being little. Don’t let anyone else tell you he should no longer be in a crib-that is your decision. They do grow up quickly. My girls are 17 and 12 now and I wonder where those years have gone, even though I have been a stay-at-home Mom for 15 of those years. Also, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring was played at our wedding 21 years ago. Love that song.

  14. Beautiful, AM. Just beautiful.

    I rocked my son until he got too big, but I can’t remember now how old “too big” was. I know I rocked him as long as possible. I am saddened to think that one of those times was the last time I’d ever rock him, though I was blissfully unaware of it at the time. I guess that’s for the better. I may have never put him down if I’d known it were the last time.

  15. Little boys are the best aren’t they? Enjoy the snuggling as much as possible. Breathe in all those wonderful boy smells and enjoy these times. They pass quickly.

  16. Aw. What a treasure.

    I once got a card from someone that said “Hope you’re happy. Hope you know it.” That’s how I feel about mamahood. I’m happy. And I KNOW it.

    Love reading posts from mama’s who relish these precious precious days.

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  18. I enjoy reading your blog so much. This one brought a tear to my eye. Being a Mom is wonderful!! I have a 4 year old who is very affectionate and I can’t imagine life without her.

  19. I enjoy reading your blog so much. This one brought a tear to my eye. Being a Mom is wonderful!! I have a 4 year old who is very affectionate and I can’t imagine life without her.

  20. Oh, now I’m crying. Little boys!
    My husband won’t let me call The Baby a “big girl” – in part to keep her from being anything other than his sweet baby and in part to keep me from announcing that I need another one.

  21. My eyes are soaked as I sit here reading your beautiful post at the library…

    I’m in the same boat. Not ready to let go of my son’s babyhood. I think that’s why I’m not really pushing the potty-training yet, honestly. I don’t want the babyhood to end. But it will – it has… sigh. Bittersweet. Sean is an angel!

  22. You have once again touched that part of me that I will never know. I don’t know if you understand what I am saying. Everytime I get the cinnimon sgar out I think of your boy and the joy he must bring you. Thank you.

  23. BEAUTIFUL post. I have had moments like these and wanted so desperately to do them justice on my blog, but have given up every time. But you nailed it.

  24. I’ve been savoring my 18 month old daughter (last baby!) in this same way… late night rocking in the glider rocker. *sigh*

    P.S. He is so beautiful! What a great picture!

  25. Ditto AM – you have me all choked up – that was written so beautifully. Enjoy these times, they grow up so fast!

  26. Loved this post. Sean is such a sweet boy. And, I would wear a ponytail too!! Have you read “Let Me Hold You Longer” by Karen Kingsbury? It’s a children’s book, and I think you would love it.

  27. No words can describe. . .but you mananged to do it. . .again.

    My 6-years-old-next-week boy is no longer in his crib, but I still lug him around from time to time. I will carry him as long as I can, because even though God gave him two perfectly healthy legs upon which to walk, he also gave me two perfectly healthy arms with which to carry him from time to time.

  28. Hi AM,
    My little guy slept in his crib till he was *5*.(Sort of out of necessity). He thought it was a dandy thing and even showed it off to his friends. 🙂

  29. Oh….gosh, that brings back memories. I kept my first in his crib way longer than was really necessary. I just didn’t want to let his babyhood go. I had quite a bit of guilt over moving him to a big bed when his baby brother arrived.

    That was very, very sweet, and brought back some really special memories.

  30. Nights in the rocker with a baby-long-gone. Those are the nights I treasure.

    My baby is going to turn three next month. I absolutely still rock him. Any time he asks. Any time he’ll let me.

    My new baby is still very much baby. I swear I can feel my heart open as I rock him to sleep.

    Thank you for sharing this night.

  31. Such sweetness! Little boys do know how to capture their mama’s heart. Mine has been captured three times and is still being held captive.

  32. Beautiful! Sniff!

    My boy (3) hasn’t been in a “big boy” bed that long. I’m in no hurry to get my little one (2) into a bed. 🙂

  33. My husband and I are praying for a baby, and God’s time is taking longer than our time would… but reading your blog brings me back to the truth that every good and perfect gift comes from Him… and you are truly finding JOY in your gifts.
    Thanks for sharing your heart.

  34. How often have I hurried,not savored the moment like the one you just described. Thanks for the reminder that once again, it’s about people–not things to do and places to go. Beautiful post.

  35. Oh, this was too beautiful.

    And if it’s any consolation, my nearly 3-year old still sleeps in the same pack-n-play since she was a beautiful newborn baby girl. Too long limbs and all.

  36. I came across your blog and read this post…I LOVED IT!!! I’m 27 so there is a gap in our ages but that entire post reminded me so much of my relationship with my son. He is five years old and since the day he was born,has always turned to snuggling and running his fingers through and holding onto my hair to go to sleep. I’m so glad that he still does this because it has always been one of my favorite things to share with him.

  37. Don’t you just love how their eyes look when they are sleeping?

    What a precious gift he is. Love that beautiful picture.

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