When my little sweet baby was about 6 months old, I would lay her in her crib awake at night, kiss her on the nose, and say “good-night”. I would leave the room and in 15 minutes or so she would be asleep. Of course it didn’t work every time – sometimes she would cry and fuss for a few minutes but I never picked her back up. I would just reassure and then leave the room again and soon enough she would be sound asleep.
She is 8 months old now and I’m not sure when it started but when we go through our bedtime routine, instead of laying her down, I hold her close to me and rock her. She lays her head on my chest between my chin and shoulder. Sometimes our cheeks touch and I can feel her warm little breath on my skin. Sometimes I can feel her eyelashes flick against my neck and I know she is still awake and trying to settle. I rock her to the verge of sleep (or sometimes until she is completely asleep) and then give her over to her crib for the night. I hold her as long as possible and sometimes I hold her too long.
Part of me knows that this might be the wrong thing to do. She will insist on being rocked now. She won’t be able to soothe herself to sleep. She’ll be 2 or 3 years old and she will still need me to rock her. I say these things to myself every night before bed and I ignore these things every time I think about it.
She doesn’t like to snuggle much and insists on being held facing forward so that she doesn’t miss the world behind her. She will push against me with locked arms and twist until I re-position her away from me. She is curious and must inspect everything. She notices details and loves to pull on tags (any tag). She likes to scratch different surfaces with her fingers to feel textures. When she’s unhappy she’s really unhappy and when she is happy she screams with delight. When she wants something she doesn’t give up until she has it in her hand (or in her mouth). She learned to crawl a week ago and is bored with it already and wants to stand and walk. She is full of effortless energy and endless curiosity. She already has a strong, fierce will of her own. She will be independent. She is full of fire.
So when I think about my baby and how fast she is growing up already, I hold her as close to my heart as possible when she will let me. I will rock her lovingly until my back breaks and my arms dissolve from fatigue. I will hold her to me and cherish the tiny eyelash flicks even though her eyes should be closed. I will choke back tears quietly because I know this will not last and she’s getting to long for me to hold already. I will try my damnedest to remember these moments, holding and rocking her to sleep, because her first birthday is only 4 months away now.
So I throw caution to the wind every night and decide that some other time I will go back to just laying her down without rocking her.