Winding Thoughts After My Son Has Gone to Sleep

Sometimes when I put my son to sleep, I sit in the dark with him cradled in my lap. I think about the day, my to do list, work, and chores. I think about how my son has grown and how heavy he feels now. Memories appear.

"I remember that you fit in the palm of my hand," my father would say to me. He'd hold out his hand - a thick hand with thick fingers. I would have a hard time imagining that, but I enjoyed hearing his loving tone and seeing his smile.

I sit and feel my eyelids close. My head rolls to the side. I rest it on the wing of "The Big Blue Chair," an armchair that I trash picked a year ago.

It's our nursing chair. When I came home from work or even a short time away, my son's need for me was sometimes overwhelming. "Meet me in The Big Blue Chair," I'd say. He'd turn and run to the chair, giving me a moment to kick off muddy shoes and a bulky jacket. He'd climb up and wait for me to come and cuddle him, to nurse him.

The Big Blue Chair is where I sit as I sing "Green, Green Rocky Road" by Dave Van Ronk to my son every night at bedtime. I hope he loves the song as I do, as I love to sing it to him.

I like to sit there in the dark, a baby on my lap. When I'm ready to rise, I whistle low to my husband and put my son in his bed, a humble spread of old sleeping bags on the floor. I'll probably awake up on them in the morning because my son wakes in the night.

Getting up and letting go of my sleeping child means chore time. Laundry to the dryer, delicates to the drying rack. Wood and kindling to the wood rack. Dishes to wash. Toys to put away. My husband and I scurry through the house. Stoke the fire. Try to read a chapter of a book. Check email.

By then, it's 9:30 at night. Maybe we'll have a snack, even if we're not hungry. It's such a simple joy after a long day. Buttered toast. A cookie. Maybe we'll have a shot of St. Germaine, a little treat I bought for us to relax... though I considered returning it up until the moment we opened it. It was expensive. We'll shower. Talk. Read a little more, maybe.

"What do you want to talk about?" one of us might ask the other.

"What did Beren do today?" one of us will ask if no other topics come to mind.

We could endlessly talk about our son. Endlessly. Until our eyes droop, until it's too late to share the pleasures of being husband and wife. We'll laugh about his new words or a clever trick he played. We'll cringe over a stumble and scrape. We'll note what clothes need replacing.

One December afternoon, I stepped through a veil. I became a mother. So powerful was the transformation, so defining and definite. 

Me, the early morning before my son was born. I don't know her anymore.