I rocked my baby to sleep tonight.
It's something that I haven't done since she was very small. Normally, she'd rather just lay in her crib, read her book, snuggle up with her stuffed animals, and go to sleep in her own time.
But tonight, we rocked.
She didn't have a nap today. Daddy was home from work, so we all went to the park this afternoon to enjoy the lovely sunshine and beautiful weather. And while her big sisters rode scooters and swung and climbed on monkey bars, Rosalie went up stairs and slid down slides, again and again and again. She ran to and fro while I chased her. She made friends with a little girl who had an Ariel bike-- Rosalie was quite fascinated by it. She played hard, with joy spilling over in her smile and her little feet always on the go.
We came home after an early dinner out, and it was bathtime. She was cheerful, sitting amidst the bubbles with Annabelle, but as I scrubbed her fingers and toes, and removed the buckets of sand from her finally-thickening hair, I could see the lack of a nap starting to take its toll.
When I rinsed out her hair, she cried.
When I took her out of the tub to dry her off, she threw a fit.
When I laid her down to put on her diaper, she rolled away from me and got mad.
When I put on her pajamas, she threw herself on the floor.
When I brushed her teeth, she cried again.
When I went to lay her down in her crib, she arched her back and hit my arms and screamed "no no no!".
It was too much, and I admit I lost patience. She was being naughty and needed discipline, regardless of how tired she was, but I spoke sharply in frustration and anger, instead of in love.
But then, we rocked.
Instead of leaving her there in her crib, turning out the light, and letting her simply go to sleep. I picked her up and took her to the rocking chair. We sat down together, and I looked in her tear-filled eyes and told her I loved her. That she needed to be a nice girl. I asked her for a hug, and she buried her head on my chest. As my arms went around her and my lips brushed her forehead, we fell into the rhythm of the chair and found peace together.
creeak creeeak creak goes the chair with each back and forth, a sound as familiar as a loved voice. Her hair smells of lavendar shampoo, her cheek feels like velvet. She sighs deeply and snuggles closer, and I relish the feel of her small form pressed into me, a part of me, mine to hold. I love the change of her weight as she draws closer to sleep, how she surrenders more fully with each passing moment. Back and forth, back and forth, creeak creeak creak, her fingers clutching her ever-present blankie and her eyes drooping lower and lower each time.
And then, she is asleep, her lashes laying long and dark against her cheek, her lips a perfect pout, and even though I could lay her down, I don't. I hold her for a little while longer and simply cherish the fact that she is small and not-quite-two, still able to fall into dreams in her mother's arms.
This child, she can be a handful. She challenges me. Wears me out and drives me to distraction sometimes.
But tonight... tonight, she was just my baby that I rocked to sleep.