Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rituals

Before becoming a mom I thought I knew what it was I would most cherish doing— sprinkling Santa lore, fostering boundless imagination and energy and trips to the park. The reality I discovered was that I voluntarily took a back seat to the Santa stuff. I had never considered the second person, my partner, as I imagined parenting. Sean has been magnificent in what he has assumed, telling the girls with great fanfare and reverence about the work of Santa; from what the reindeer need to eat, to the distance that Santa must travel. I've perched in shadowed corners to listen, smiling softly knowing that I probably would've stopped at red velvet with black piping.

Sean has handled the lion's share of bedtime duties since Avery arrived. I remember putting Briar to bed, reading to her as she sat precariously on my lap, the nearly 10 pounds of Ave leaving scant real estate upon which to perch. Tears slid silently down my face as I read to her, wondering all the while if Ave's arrival would forever change out life. It did, but as I've learned, nothing is as I imagined.

My favorite ritual, one that began with Bri and has returned with Ave, happens after bedtime. I still give bedtime cuddles and kisses, retrieve stuffed animals and find specific pajamas, but it's this tiny thing after bed that lives in a halo of wonder and significance for me. Ave is potty training, for the most part she is out of a diaper, but the nights still present a challenge. Each night before I go to bed I tip toe into their room, gather Ave in my arms and whisper, "Mama's here. Wanna go in the bathroom and pee for me?"

She purses her lips, sighs and then wraps her arms around me. I walk down the hallway whispering in her ear, "At's my girl," and "I love you so much, big girl." I set her on the seat in the bathroom and she leans forward, arms clasped around my legs with one hand tracing the surface of my skin. "Pee for me?" Her little body tenses and then relaxes, she murmurs a yes and then does.

She rubs her face against my legs, "M'all done, mama." We finish up and I flip the light. Walking down the hall, cradling her head on my shoulder, I shiver. I lower her into bed, sometimes she asks me to cuddle, other times she slips immediately to sleep. The room shimmers a silvery blue from the moonlight off the snow, the whir of the humidifier is the only sound as I sit. Still as can be, I imagine a third bed, a space between Briar and Avery, just down the hall from Fin, for me.

I ache that I will not always be, that for every moment as mama, tending to my girls, there will be time that I miss. Time when I am gone. Not a sister, their mom. Avery turns, her fingers stretch, I pass her furry blue animal into her hand and she tucks him into her body. Like so much of what we do as parents, she barely registers me or this ritual, trusting that it will come each night. Her curls spread out around her and for a moment, cloaked in the silence, it is as if I belong.

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10 comments:

Meredith said...

You sure know how to take my breath away. Thank you for such a beautiful post.

Kyla said...

This was gorgeous and sweet.

Amy said...

*sigh* You've got nothing on Darius:)

Heather said...

I remember those days pregnant with #2 and crying about all I thought I would lose. I didn't realize all I would gain then though. And now, with 3.

Beautiful, as usual Amanda.

Myshka said...

You'll never lose these moments- these amazing rituals etch them into your memory like grooves in a record. You'll always belong. I still remember my mom reading to me and what lullabye she sang. And I will, for the rest of my life. xo

Lindsay, Tony, and Madison said...

Every entry about the night rituals you have with your girls brings tears to my eyes! They are so beautifully written, and while not wanting to "chase away" the time I have with Madison now (she's 3 months), I really can't wait for the day she hugs me because she knows what she's doing, not just because her arms happen to fall that way! I hope I am able to express myself half as well as you when that time comes!

Patois said...

Beautiful. Many of the rituals done with my eldest have ceased now that he's 12, but we've managed to make new ones. Not the same, yes, but ones I treasure nonetheless.

Christy said...

Sometimes I feel like I haven't created enough of these 'rituals' over the years, and it makes me sad as my first is growing so quickly and the second will soon arrive. When I sit down and think though, it is the simplest of things, that I often overlook, that hold such meaning.

Thank you.

Cat said...

Never thought peeing could be lovely, but here you went and made me think again. Pee, little angel, pee!

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