I just finished tucking my 2 year old son in for his nap . . . and by tucking him in, I mean picking him (and his blanket) up off the floor and laying them carefully in his bed. And while that may sound like a chore to some, physical labor to others (especially considering my son is a big, solid kid), I love it.
My son isn't the kind of kid who falls asleep on you or that you find in strange places just passed out. He sleeps in his bed and occasionally his carseat, and that's it. It's been over a year since I've held my sleeping son, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until we had to turn his crib into a daybed a few weeks ago.
Since the little monster is no longer confined to the bed, he does tend to get out of it and try to play at naptime. But he really is tired, and really does need a nap (and his room is nice and dark and filled with the black magic that is white noise), so he can only hold out for so long. Normally one of us goes in there every five minutes and puts him back in bed, but sometimes life happens and distractions abound and by the time we check back in, he's on the floor asleep--often with his face buried in his blanket and his butt up in the air.
I know he's young and tough and resilient, but that room has a wood flooring and it ain't soft, so I can't just leave him sleeping on it. I softly open the door (which is in desperate need of some WD40) and gather him in my arms, just like I did when he would still fall asleep in my arms.
He's heavy and his legs dangle a ways past the arm I've slipped under his knees. Soft curls from his blonde mop top tickle my left bicep; he's so much bigger than the last time I held him like this--like a baby. I have to force myself to lay him on his mattress instead of just holding him (and risking him waking up). I also have to resist the urge to curl up in bed next to him. I love this child to death 24/7, but the maternal pull is strongest when he's asleep--peaceful and vulnerable. It's also when I most realize that he's growing up. Something about stillness allows for almost painful clarity. Maybe that's why I just want to hold him, be near him. I want to cling to the joys of this age--and even the joys past.
And I feel a sadness I don't understand. It's that "my baby is growing up" cliche that currently runs rampant in our visual media. But I don't wish him younger. There are particular things I miss from the past two years--things I sadly never caught on camera that he will never do again--but I never actively wish for him to BE 6 months old again, or a year, or 18 months. And there are so many things I don't miss. I don't miss formula, I don't miss him not sleeping through the night, I don't miss his frustration over learning to crawl and then to walk, and I CERTAINLY don't miss the height of his teething phase (and all the drooooooool).
I actually look forward to the potential surprises each new day brings. Will he say something new? Will he figure out a puzzle that stumped him yesterday? What progress will he show? What unbearably adorable habit will he display?
It's a strange mix of emotions I don't know if I'll ever understand, this thing motherhood, but I guess I just have to accept it.