Before you were born I carried you under my heart. From the moment you arrived in this world until the moment I leave it, I will always carry you in my heart. ~Mandy Harrison
Rocking together to the sweet rhythm of Enya and Chant serenading us in the darkened back bedroom as we settle down for the evening, my Baby Girl nestles in the crook of my left arm, right cheek growing moist as the warmth of our bodies hold against one another in the still of the night. Glowing warmth from three night lights lovingly plugged in all around her nursery cast shadows on us as we quietly move with the music setting the peaceful tone for this nightly routine. As I hush and hum to my second rainbow baby her eyelids grow heavy as she curls two fingers around the length of my strawberry blonde tresses. In a happy way, I smile to myself looking about the room that has become her own for a year now, with the favorite books always strewn outside the bookshelf, to the three pairs of shoes lined neatly in a row, to the carefully chosen stuffed animals tucked neatly into the sides and footboard of her cherry stained toddler bed arranged perfectly by her lovingly bossy older brother. Baby, her beloved doll rests her head on a handmade peach and flower patterned pillow underneath a matching quilted blanket sewn together as a gift set by my mother for caretaking of my own dolls many moons ago. Baby Girl never forgets to kiss Baby’s vanilla scented face nor sweetly tuck her in for the night placing her delicately inside the Amish-built wooden doll cradle that my father bought for me at our town’s street festival one warm September day so long ago when I was young and still maternal with my dolls. Now that tiny bed belongs to my Baby Girl as it once belonged to my oldest, The Girl before she upgraded to new doll beds years before.
Nighttime routines can become tedious and overly long and drawn out around here, mostly because having three kids wind down together at a decent hour and at relatively the same time each night is a challenge on any good night. Lately, I don’t mind—the length of the routine, the tediousness of it all, nor if it takes away from my personal time. Lately, I’ve just wanted to hold Baby Girl a little bit longer, tighter even, lingering in the creaky white wood rocking chair as I hold her feeling that toddler-sweet, warm breath heating up the length of my forearm. Gently brushing the mess of golden brown curls away from sticking to her flushed forehead and cheeks, I constantly study Baby Girl’s porcelain-like beautiful face and marvel in awe about how she came to be here with me, how much of an angel she really is, and how fortunate I am to be holding onto this little piece of Heaven. And I suddenly forget why I’ve ever minded or felt slighted that at 27 months old, she still needs me to rock her fully to sleep.
For all her life, Baby Girl has clung to me a little more than The Boy ever did, especially at this ripe old age of two, and in ways The Girl and I missed out on during her early years before she came to be a part of our family. Never before having children did I set out to be an “attachment parent,” but I am just that, in many ways the textbook definition of that special type of parent. Truly, attachment parenting just sort of happened, and I let it happen naturally because doing so has felt exactly right. Maybe it’s because of the lack of attachment The Girl had before coming to us is so apparent and detrimental in her development, but being so attuned to my three kids has been a deep revelation in my heart–to have a deep sense of attachment and want a stronger connection with all of them since day one of our lives together and for as long as possible without pushing them away. Whatever the reason, Baby Girl needs me more now especially as her desire to be independent grows each new day. On some days, she’s bolder in her independence than on others and the pulling apart is there–farther and farther from my arms, but not completely out of my sight nor ever, ever completely out of my heart. What’s keeping me calm and content for now is knowing that at night, I’ll be holding onto her for a little while longer as she hasn’t wanted to give up the climb back into the safety of my arms and the comfort of my lap. For now, I relish these silent moments together no matter how often or rare they may come in the future. Until then, I will start my own path to detachment for the sake of my daughter’s development and trust. It’s bittersweet for me that I get to see my Baby Girl growing and stretching beyond the limits of us, but I continue to eagerly cheer her on in all of the attempts she makes to chase that natural way inside of her, skipping down the path from Baby Girl winding toward a larger version of herself. Down that path, I once was and it lead me here–right where I want to be.