Where does the time go?


It's become routine over the last few months at our house for Jake to make his way from his bedroom to ours at random times of night. He marches over to the side of the bed I sleep on with his blanket in tow as he whispers, "Mommy!". Our short conversation is always the same. I ask, "What Baby?", then he says, "Can I sleep with you?"

When he first started doing this, I always encouraged him to go back to his bed - even if that meant me going with him and tucking him in all over again just as I or Jim had done hours earlier. But lately sleep for me is more valuable than being overrun in my own bed by size eight feet, tennis-ball size knees, and having less square footage on our queen mattress to turn over or stretch my legs.

Friday night was no exception. Only this time I was already awake. I could hear the pitter-patter of his feet, the swish of his pull-up (which he still needs at night and very well may until he's in first grade), and the rubbing of his blanket along the floor coming down the short hallway that leads to our bedroom.

But this time, when he got to the side of our bed that I sleep on, our conversation was different and so was our routine. When he got there, he said, "Mommy!". My reply, "What Baby?" "My nose is running", he answered. His reason for needing me wasn't just his usual "Because I want to sleep with my mommy!" (which is what he told his grandma when she asked him the day before why he likes to get in bed with his mommy and daddy in the middle of the night). This time his nose was running down to his chin, so instead of telling him "Yes, you can sleep with me", I took him to his room to do all I could for the cold he had come down with - a dose of Mucinex, a breathing treatment, a glob of Vick's Baby Rub on his chest, and several squeezes of his nasal aspirator.

I laid with him in his bed while he watched reruns of the 70's version of Batman and Robin (you know, the one where when they get into fights, you see words like Pow! and Splat! come up like a cartoon) on the Hub channel. When he finished his breathing treatment, I turned off his TV and turned on his Blessed Slumber CD. We laid quietly side by side while I rubbed his back and ran my fingers through his hair. I hummed and sang and eventually snores replaced sniffles, questions, and coughs. And even though he was sound asleep, I just kept laying there running my fingers through his hair, humming, and singing.

My thoughts took me back to the days when I used to do the same thing when he was just an infant. He was fed, he was dry, and he was fast asleep. But I held him anyway, humming and singing and rocking - I had to make myself go back to my own bed.

I looked around his room and thought about how time had changed it so much. Walls that were once Iceland Blue are now a warm khaki. They hold a shelf made of basketball net, a bulletin board graced with his own artwork he made himself, and sports jerseys. The shelves on his nightstand hold books and baseballs. The rocker we spent countless hours in together is now in the room next to his that will soon become his little brother's, and the crib he once occupied has been replaced by a twin-sized bed.  The floor was full of Thomas engines, plastic dinosaurs, and pieces to a puzzle he didn't finish putting together.

I laid there with my thoughts, and I began to cry. Where had the time gone? Oh, what I would give to rock my tiny baby all over again at 11, 2 and 5 o'clock in the morning. We were the only two awake in our home and what felt like, the whole world. Yes, watching him grow and become the almost four-year old that he is has been incredible, but I still can't help but miss the quietness of those hours.

But all I can do is remember these days gone by, love and embrace each stage that passes, fill the memory banks of my mind with everyday moments - the sound of his laughter, the night-time baths that I'm still able to give, hand-prints on the glass door, and be ever so thankful that we still sometimes share the quietness of these hours.

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