Reruns and Leftovers

The Ponytail

 If you are new here, if you’ve come here by way of the Weblog Awards, this post was originally published in June of this year.  It is one of my favorites.  Today, up until sometime this afternoon — like 5pm CST I think — you can go here and vote for me.  And then we shall never speak of it again, because goodnight I am tired of speaking of it.

* * * * *

 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.

“Mommy?”

“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.

32 thoughts on “The Ponytail

  1. Loved it the first time. Still brought mist to my eyes on the encore! You have a gift, AM, and I for one . . . thank you for using it.

  2. I don’t remember haven’t read this post…you made me cry, it is so beautifully written. Thanks for sharing this precious moments in such a magic way. I am happy someone is able to put them into words the way you do, because certainly I can’t!

  3. That was so sweet. It brought tears to my eyes. Enjoy your baby as long as you can. They grow up and away from you all too soon.

  4. I loved this post the first time I read it, and am so glad you posted it again. Like the last comment, I too had tears in my eyes by the end. Both times. I don’t think I’m a whole lot older than you but my sons are 19 and 21 now, one of them at the other side of the world. I love them both enormously, but sometimes I so miss those toddler years.

  5. Over on another blog you said this…

    The “marinating” part of the process has served me well as it has kept me from publishing thoughts that were better left unexpressed in the public realm.

    Just yesterday I was thinking… Hmm… in 10 years… will I want all of this plastered all over my blog. Will I have matured any in 10 years and be embarrassed by what I have written so far? I guess it’s a good thing there is a delete key.

    I don’t have any rules — but I’m going to start making more drafts… reading, re-reading… before I hit PUBLISH THIS POST!

  6. Well, shoot. You made me sniffle and cry.

    Very sweet. I can’t remember how many times I’ve sat in the rocker for too long, just relishing their bodies on mine…

  7. Your “rocking your child to sleep” days will end too soon, but what a blessing to have that memory to cherish forever. It kind of makes those annoying times worth it all, don’t you think? Have a wonderful day!!!

  8. That story enveloped me in the experience. Excellent writing! I love those sweet, quiet moments with my kids – they don’t happen enough. Both my kids have a “Praise Jesus” pose when sleeping. Arms up in the air above their heads. It cracks me up EVERY time I witness it!

    Thanks again for a beautiful post!

  9. I just visited you for the first time. I read your story about how it happened. I Loved it because I also made plans and sometimes still do, and God keeps laughing at me. I am looking forward to visiting you more often. thanks

  10. Because of this, I went up and kissed my sleeping kids in their beds. My last, like yours, is almost to big now to cuddle in two arms, but they are all young enough still for me to grab their cushy butts and kiss their faces with abandon and tomorrow I will do more of that, thanks to you.

  11. I loved this before and I love it just as much now. It brings tears to my eyes.

    Kids are such an incredible blessing.

    Now, do you think it would be inappropriate to go pull my son out of middle school for the day, so we could sit and cuddle? 😉 (The best part, though? He would be totally up for it. Yes, even at 12 and nearly as tall as me, my son’s still a lovebug.)

  12. AM,
    I loved this one the first time and it made me cry again. I love how much you love being a mom. It always come through in your writing.

  13. I’d heard wonderful things about you from Veronica but hadn’t found my way here until now. And you made me cry. What a lovely post. What a lovely tribute to how special motherhood can be. Nice to meet you. :>

  14. Oh, I love those kind of blogs, I reminds me of when my kids were little. My youngest is nine now. I try to get him to let me rock him now, but he just runs off laughing.

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