I just put an overtired baby to bed.
Ever since our trip to Sydney, his sleeping patterns have gone all crazy and he’s stopped sleeping through the night consistently. This morning, he woke up at 5am, all ready to play. And I had to nurse him back to sleep – something I hadn’t done since his last mental leap.
He also skipped a nap in the day and because we had to go to the in-laws’ for dinner, little man couldn’t go to bed early.
Which meant that his meltdown at bedtime wasn’t surprising. He didn’t want his father to put him to bed, only mama can. And I gladly took him from his father and held him in my arms as he nestled onto my chest in the fetal position: legs curled up and arms tucked beneath his chest.
I sang his favourite song – Twinkle, twinkle, little star – and cuddled him for a little while. And as I did that, big fat tears started falling from my eyes.
I felt the strongest, most intense love stirring in my heart. For this boy who came as a surprise and who has brought so much light and joy in my life.
I felt the familiar painful tug of guilt, something I battle every single day. I wish I could be there for him every day of his life. I wish that my career doesn’t mean so much to me. I wish that our caregiving situation is smoother than it currently is.
I felt the dawning realisation of how my mother must have felt all her life. For her to slog most of her life away just to bring us up on her own, all the while missing out on the important milestones of our lives.
I felt the bittersweet pang of resignation. That while I can’t wait for him to grow up and do stuff with us, I also wish I could bottle up this glorious period of babyhood and live in it forever. But I know I can’t. He’s growing up, so fast, too fast, and one day he is going to leave us behind.
I felt all these emotions churning in me in those short fleeting minutes before I gently laid him down in his cot.
He will never understand this mix of feelings that burns in my mind every day. But that’s okay.
Because as his mother, my job is to nurture him and then let him go.