We're really blessed to have a kid who usually doesn't fight bedtime very much. In fact, he has recently extended his "I do it" philosophy to this routine and will go find Blankee and George and march himself to his room. He climbs on top of his obnoxious toy train (that we never replaced the batteries in so we won't have to listen to its mind-numbing sounds ever again) and turns off the light. He proclaims, "Did it!" and then closes the door.
And I just sit in our chair and watch.
I watch him take control of something so simple as going to bed and take an enormous amount of pride in it. I watch his eyes light up when he realizes he is finally big enough to scale to a height tall enough to flip that light switch. I watch as he puts on a show and relishes in my praise of his accomplishments.
Then he runs to me.
It's the best part. He toddles over to me and reaches his arms out to their full extent. I hand over his loveys and he smashes them into his face. That Blankee is seriously gross despite my best efforts to steal it from him and wash it on the sly a couple times a week, but he loves it like a member of the family. He wraps his arms around George and pulls him tight before he gives in to the moment and lays back against me.
He buries the top of his head under my chin, where it fit perfectly in the curve of my neck. We pray together and rock the chair slowly back and forth as his breathing slows. Usually he has me give George a kiss goodnight. I breathe in the soft scent that lingers in the tendrils atop his head and his clumsy little hand often push mine off of his arms or legs because I was squeezing him too tight.
We just rock back and forth for a couple minutes, quietly.
Then I tell him it's time for bed and I say to him, "I love you Thomas!" His face turns toward mine and he whispers, "Toooo."
"You love me too, Thomas?"
"Oh, thank you."
"Thank you Mommy."
Thank you for the stolen moments in the dark, just the two of us. Thank you for sleeping happily in your crib because I'm just not ready for the Big Boy Bed yet. Thank you for coming to me to make it feel better when your brother body-slams you and for laughing when I tickle your bare toes as you eat your breakfast. Thank you for forgiving me when I lose my patience or when my agenda trumps your independent streak. Thank you for insisting on kissing it better when I stub my toe on the coffee table. Thank you for your willingness to play and to learn.
Thank you for being my baby for just a little while longer.
For you, I'll watch the Curious George Halloween special for the seventy-fifth time. For you, I'll hold out my hand so you can give me the peels from the apple you're eating. For you, I'll try really hard to be ok with being a couple minutes late so you can climb into your carseat all by yourself. Don't tell your brothers, but you have me wrapped around your finger a little bit.
"I do it," you say.
Yes you certainly do, baby. You do it.
(Love you, kiddo.)