I have a favorite time of night. It happens after dinner. After playing and reading books. After the bath and massage and slipping into pajamas. Sitting in the dark, I nurse Nora to sleep. I listen to the rhythm of her breath, to the gurgling of the humidifier, to my own even breath. I feel her grow heavier. If it’s quiet enough at exactly the right time, I hear the tolling of the nearby Lutheran church’s bells. The same distant melody I fell asleep to as a student, over fifteen years ago.
Because I’m sitting in the dark, waiting for her to fall fully asleep, I have time to think. My own eyelids flutter and fall as I review the day’s events. As I think about the day to come. As I imagine all of our days to come.
There is a kind of timelessness to breastfeeding. This can be any night and every night. I have been doing this, in one form or another, for 420 nights. I can imagine doing this for another 420 nights. Another 4,200. But I know, in reality, that this quiet time I have with our small daughter is brief. I will only be able to do this for a few hundred nights more. She will eventually grow out of her need for this type of sustenance and comfort. She’ll move to cuddles and back rubs, just-one-more stories, and eventually, pecks on the cheek. But for now, I feel like this part of our lives will extend forever.
I’m not grateful for this time every night. There are times when she takes forever to settle down. When she kicks me too hard. When she refuses to lay down in the crib. When I’m just too tired for the routine. I have to honor that this type of parenting, this type of mindfulness, is not always easy.
But most nights, this is the quiet that I wait for all day.