Dash was unsettled tonight. All day, really. Argumentative, heel-dragging, impulsive… While he managed to behave himself hanging out with friends today, he immediately went around the house hooting and bashing as soon as they left. It culminated in him biting James at bedtime, which lost him some portion of their bedtime routine together, a story or a book I think. James left the room, and Dash wailed for a while.
Around 9pm, he emerged, requesting that his microwavable comfort plushie, his warm owl, be re-warmed. I agreed to do it, and asked if he had apologized to James. He said he had, James said he had not, so I requested that Dash do that while I microwaved the owl. He did, and he and James talked, and then he went back to his room, where I found him crying. His eyes were dry, but he was sobbing, and when I asked him if he wanted to cuddle in the chair he said yes. He held his warm owl on his chest, and I sang for him, rocking back and forth. It’s been a while since we did it that way, as he’s so long now that he doesn’t fit neatly laying down in my lap, nor even across the chair itself, his legs now dangling over the edge and pillow barely nestled in between his head and the arm of the rocker.
We revisited that old ritual, and he settled. He was so tired. He rubbed his eyes, and then his eyelids got heavy, and then eventually his little mouth opened a little and his body relaxed completely into slumber. I rocked him, and kissed his forehead, and marveled at how much that rocking chair serves as a growth chart, with him now spilling over both sides of its generous seat when he once rested there upon a nursing pillow.
He’s now definitely a kid. When I kissed him tonight, he was a beautiful boy, no longer a little nursing baby, though he instinctually lay in the same old position. He smells as small children do, freshly bathed and warm from a cuddle, rather than the milky softness of infancy. But when I hold him like that, all moments of Dash are simultaneous, matryoshka moments of growing him up into who he is and is becoming. He has always been there, and yet is new every day, bigger and stronger and more curious as he runs through the world.
What a blessing it is to be able to soothe him still. I’m not sure he has any inkling what a wild ride we have all been on in the four years he’s been alive. That rocking chair has sat in the eye of a hurricane, a sacred space in the chaos where things are simple in the infinitely complex way that maternity entails. Amid the evolutionary triumph of a human home standing strong against the elements, we are animals nestled together, jangled nerves calmed by the warm assurance of each other’s presence as we fly through time.