I’m back, after a bit of a break. The seasonal transitions require stepping away, reflection. Another school year closes for me and this year, for 3-year-old BRK as well.
The kids are finally sleeping “late enough” for me to resume 5 AM writing. I’m grateful for this — it’s a meditation for me.
I’ve been taking a writing class and for a recent assignment, was tasked with describing a place. I chose to describe the place of being with a 3-year-old before her bedtime, a place I typically encounter with impatience, but that on this day, I wanted to relish.
Here it is:
My body sinks into the couch, deeper than her 3-year-old body sinks into me. But she exerts a weight on me, for sure. A weight just heavy enough for my quadricep muscles to call out, “She’s not a baby anymore.”
The gray velvet of the three-piece sectional couch is soft and comforting. I ignore the stray blue and purple marker streaks, the ones that sweat-inducing scrubbing couldn’t touch. A dark triangle of space connects the piece of couch I lay on and the adjacent piece. Every single day, multiple times a day, I align the couches. And every day, multiple times a day, couch chaos elves undo my work.
Her head feels musty against my lips. Her strands of curly hair damp from the bath, murmuring orange and rosemary into my nose, from the adult shampoo and conditioner I use on her. Her head is still so warm, like, a baby’s. I’m inhaling vapors from a greenhouse of toiletry scents.
Her hands feel warm and dirty against my face. One holds fingers that inevitably just crawled into a nostril then climbed into a mouth, and now it rests on my cheek. I miss her pale soft baby hands that even when encrusted in baby poop, somehow never felt dirty to me.
Her mouth opens and paradise spills out. “I am a BIG. OAK. TREE. Stuck in the GROUND. IS. ME. If I had JUST. ONE. WISH. I’d like to DANCE. LIKE. THIS.” She strikes each note like a mallet to a tone bar. Will she be a singer one day? Will her brother? Will we have a family band?
I sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to her and she sings along. Her voice matches mine, at times in a perfect overlap. She clutches the tail of her lovey, the stuffed dog named Big Oof. Big Oof’s wet tail brushes my neck. I wince. The tail smells like a garbage truck on a stifling summer day. To my daughter, that tail plus her thumb in her mouth defines comfort.
She asks me if we can just rest here. I say yes. I never say yes. I always say, “No, let’s go brush teeth and then you can rest in bed.” But tonight is different. Two nights ago the news shook me. Yesterday I googled “middle school bullying”. Today I was at the doctor for a lump on my neck, which turned out to be nothing more than muscle strain from dental work gone bad. My tooth throbs, and it will until I go to the dentist tomorrow.
So now, in this moment, on this couch with my 3-year-old, I want to rest. I want to bottle this moment. The label would read, “Putting June to Bed, June 5, 2017”.
Those musty curls are dry now, soft silky threads scattered against my chin. Her body rises up and down, faster than mine. We are drifting, drifting . . . BOOM she jerks awake.
“Let’s go brush teeth now, bugaboo.”
And we do.