When I was a first-time mother, I listened to my friends with infants. They talked about this strange device known as "the crib" and how they would lay their child in "the crib."
I often clutched their arms, pleading, "Explain this to me. How do you get them to sleep in the crib?"
My friends, bless their hearts, would say, "Well, I pick her up, place her in the crib, and then walk away." They spoke slowly, with their eyebrows raised, and their mouths over-exaggerated "Os."
I nodded, as if this explanation made complete sense. Of course, for me, it did not. My oldest, bless his co-dependent little heart, slept on me for the first six months of his life.
I nursed Captain Boobies to sleep, always prepared with my arsenal of entertainment: the remote, a drink, a book, and my snugly brown blanket. As Owen snoozed after his meal, I watched The Barefoot Contessa, and dreamed of living in the Hamptons, knowing my fishmonger by name, and using the good vanilla.
A few times, I attempted to move Owen to a horizontal resting place. He bleated in protest, and I said to myself, "Well. What else have I got to do, anyway?"
(Clearly, I hadn't discovered blogging at this point in my life).
For months, he remained on my chest. Spoiled little first-born.
When Joel came along, Owen was a busy two and a half year old. I couldn't sit down for more than ten minutes at a stretch, let along two to three hours. So, as it is with second born children, Joel slept in the crib. He bleated. I said, in the kindest way I could, "Suck it up, kid."
Sometimes, I wonder if this is why Joel is less snuggly in general. He didn't care for breastfeeding, and to this day, he prefers to be moving instead of in my arms. Sometimes, I wonder if my detachment made him feel less attached.
Then, things like this happen: On Tuesday, as his brother was happily playing upstairs, Joel walked to me and said, "Want to play with Mommy." He climbed up into my lap, wrapped his arms around my neck, and rested his head against my shoulder.
I kissed his blond head, stroking his feathery locks. He felt like a warm stone, an earthy blanket of dirt and dump trucks and strawberry yogurt.
I sat in silence, listening to his breath become my own. He drifted off to sleep, and in the stillness of that moment, he was mine once more. His rose-shaped mouth, the ridges of his shell-like knuckles---holiness in a moment, as pure as a still, cold lake.
I rested there, holding my baby, as my other baby played upstairs. I closed my eyes, lifted up a brief whisper of gratitude, and held him closer.
After all--What else did I possibly have to do?
Nothing. Nothing in this whole, wide world.