Did you know that when children fall asleep, they turn from a solid into a liquid? My first grader is learning the three states of matter, so I’m a temporary authority on the…er…matter. So to speak.
Anyway, she’s had strep throat and then developed an allergy to the antibiotic, so needless to say she hasn’t been feeling well lately. Today, I was doing some work on my computer when she crawled into my lap and fell asleep. (These are the moments that remind me why I work from home.)
She’s usually moving too fast to even entertain the notion of a nap, but as I held her while doing my work, I could feel her getting quieter and heavier. So heavy. You know how when you hold a sleeping baby long enough, your hand or arm will go to sleep? Turns out when you hold a sleeping 6 year old, many other parts go to sleep too.
First my left arm, which carried most of her weight. Then I shifted a bit to put more weight on both arms, and squarely in the middle of my lap. This required that I stop typing, and when I finished reading the page on the screen I was stuck there, not wanting to move her to reach the keyboard. About this time my left leg started going to sleep too, which soon spread all the way up to my left butt cheek.
Again I gently shifted, putting more weight on my right toes, which were flexed to correctly level my poor little lap. Soon I lost feeling in my right toes too. And then the pain. So much heaviness and pain, real pain!, in my left arm. How did she double in body mass? Not only did she get heavier, but now she was dripping out of all the places where she had been contained a moment or two earlier. One arm hung over my left arm, and her right arm was propped on mine, but soon flopped down to my side. Her legs were spilling off my lap, one foot almost touching the floor. Was she ever small enough to wrap up in my arms?
Just as a liquid will drain away from its container when spilled, I know that over time, she will drain out of my arms. Not just when she wakes from this nap, but as she grows up and becomes her own person. There will be a day when not only will she no longer fit, but she’ll laugh at the thought of climbing into my lap. Hopefully she’ll always want my arms around her, but she’ll be a solid then, retaining her own shape. Her own person. She’ll allow me to hold her, but will no longer seep into every corner of me.
So here we sit. Even the computer goes to sleep. I watch the screen dim, then go to black, still not willing to wake my sleeping baby. I mean 6-year-old. I think of a book my friend Lisa recommended, about how you have to appreciate the little moments with your kids because you never know when that moment will be the last of its kind. I never read it, was afraid I couldn’t bear it. In this moment, I know that this might be the last time she sleeps in my arms. I’m simultaneously grateful for this gift, and hoping she’ll wake up and let my poor aching body recover.
Never wake a sleeping baby because someday you’ll wake up and she’ll be gone, like a vapor, escaping into the atmosphere.
But for now, I’m pretty sure it will take me a while to recover from the pain and stinging all over the left half of my body. When people told me that being a mother was painful, I thought they meant it in the metaphorical sense, not the very real “I can’t feel my arm” sense. Oh well, she already has my heart, she may as well take my arm with it. And my leg. And my left butt cheek.
Have you ever had a child fall asleep on your lap? Then you feel my pain. Tell me your story…