I am by nature a morning person. By 5:30 am, I am itching to get out of bed and get going. But by 8:30 pm, I’m spent; ready for bath, bed, and beyond. AD, on the other hand, is a night owl. Consequently I have always assumed the morning parenting duties while he takes the bedtime shift. And it has worked well for our family.
The other morning Sean got up earlier than usual and stumbled into the kitchen where I was sitting at my desk. He wrapped his arms around my neck and then lodged himself into my lap. He squirmed and shifted as he tried to find a comfortable place to stash his long legs. He twisted his head this way and that as he tried to nestle into my neck. He doesn’t quite fit me the way he used to.
As we sat there quietly and uncomfortably like two mismatched puzzle pieces, I reflected on how our morning routine has changed over the past seven years.
When he was a brand new preemie newborn, we were instructed to feed him every two hours. So I would wake him from his sleep at 4am to feed him. After his bottle I would lay with him on the floor under the glow of the lights of the Christmas tree and stare at this weird little four-pound alien creature who had rocked my world. While the dog snuggled into the curve of my back and Sean snuggled into the pillowy softness that was my post-postpartum front, I would study his face and count his eyelashes as I watched him drift back to sleep.
The next year, I would tip toe into his room early in the morning hoping to find him sleeping so I could check my email or enjoy a cup of coffee in peace before the day started. But being a morning person like me, I would most often find him standing in his crib waiting for me. He would bounce with excitement when he saw me and squeal with joy. Then he would stretch out his arms for me clenching his chubby little hands in and out in the universal and dual-purpose sign for Get me! and Milk!
I would lift him out of his crib and inhale the morning essence wafting off his neck. Then I’d wrap him up in a blanket and carry him away to the den where we would sit on the couch in silence save the slurping symphony that is the sweet sound of a congested baby sucking on a bottle.
The next few years, I would often wake up to the sound of someone breathing in my face. I would force open one eye to see him standing next to my bed, two hopeful little eyeballs staring back at me, willing me into consciousness. I would pull on my robe as a footsie-pajama clad policeman led me away by the hand to the den. We would get our respective beverages, snuggle in an afghan on the couch and then build with Legos until the sun came up.
The days of snuggling together in a blanket with a bottle and playing all morning are no more. Now we have to get up and get going; we’ve got to meet the world.
But before we get to lunch packing, paper signing, breakfast making, backpack packing and world meeting he sits on my lap for a minute or two and tries to figure out where to put his legs while I inhale his morning essence.
He still rocks my world. And he still fits.