Sleeping child, speaking child

Chinatown sleeps.

One afternoon Jared and I carried our then newborn son, Beren, around Princeton, just to get some fresh air, just to be among people. An older woman, deep into her grandmotherly years, smiled at me and said, "There's nothing closer to heaven than a newborn baby."

I smiled back and falteringly said "thank you." I thought, "These are the craziest moments of my life. What then, could heaven be like?" If I were to be less generous and more honest as I write, I may have also thought, "That's crazy."

I recently saw a bunch of photos online of mothers and babies, mothers and newborns. A strange feeling flickered through me. A touch of heaven, perhaps.

I can assure you that heaven for me has always been, at least since becoming a mother, the face of my sleeping child.

Tonight, just before Jared turns off the light, he'll say, "Goodnight, Beren. I love you." He'll turn back to me, look me in the eye, "Goodnight, Rachel. I love you." I'll return his look, "And, I love you, Jared. Goodnight, Beren, I love you." Jared will turn back to the lamp, turn the switch, and with it's click, we'll be swaddled in blankets and darkness.

Fly away, bad spirits. Goodnight and goodbye, sad spirits. Into the dark night, mad spirits. Away, until tomorrow. Our child sleeps.


On Sunday, Jared told Beren, "Say 'bye bye' to Momma." Beren turned to me and said, "Bye bye, Momma." This is a milestone that we just reached. He also said (for the first time ever) 'bye bye' a couple weeks ago to a friend's child after she and Beren had a particularly contentious playdate. I almost fell over.

And sweetest of sweet… after reading a book called, "I love you, Mommy", Beren said, "I love you. Momma. I love you. Momma."