Friday, May 20, 2011

Of Roots and Wings

I wrote this as an email to Mollie today, but because it is practically the only thing I have been thinking about for the past week, I decided to share it here.

Dear, sweet Mollie,

Last week we started transitioning you from the bassinet in our room to the crib in your room. You had been giving us signs that you were ready for this, sleeping better when we weren't in the room with you, kicking your swaddled little feet at the bassinet bumper, whinnying like a little barnyard animal as you slept. So we bought a monitor and braced ourselves for the possibility of a difficult transition, knowing all the while that it was the best decision for all of us.

The transition has turned out to be much harder on me than on you. You sleep beautifully now, from somewhere around 11:30pm until sometime close to 4:30am, at which point you nurse and go right back to sleep. You turn yourself around in your crib, doing unseen acrobatics in your sleep that land you perpendicular from the place where I put you down. You still whinny like a little foal or piglet, but you do it to yourself. And sometimes when I come to get you after I have heard you chirping for a few minutes in the morning, you are staring at your mobile of angry birds, happy as a clam even with a heavy, wet diaper.

I spent the past week looking over at your empty bassinet, steeling myself for the day when you eventually go to summer camp. Or worse, college. I liked the weeks that we spent sleeping in one room, treasured the knowledge that I was drifting into sleep closest to my two favorite people in the whole world -- you and your dad. I felt cozy and safe, the two of you within arm's reach.

But now it's time for the first real separation. As your dad took your bassinet downstairs yesterday, where it will wait for a new baby cousin to be ready to use, I had to suppress the urge to tell him to "wait!, stop!, I'm not quite ready for this." Because you are ready, little one. You are ready to sleep your own sleep, to be more than an arm's reach away from me, to find your own space in your sweet little room. And so I will hold myself back. I will let you find your way. I will cross the short distance between our room and your room, comforting myself that I am no more than a squawk away from you when you need me, when I need you.

I think that you will teach me this lesson over and over again, and that it will always be hard for me. Those roots that your father and I give you are always to be counterbalanced by the wings that you grow on your own. Every time you take flight, I will have to suppress the urge to pull you back to me, to hold you close to my heart and to the earth, just to save myself the pain of letting you go. I promise to do my best to let you fly, little one. It is a big world, and it is all yours.

You are chirping right now, so I will go to you. I will pick you up and cuddle you, nurse you and make you comfortable. I will kiss you and rock you and snuggle you back to sleep. I will remember that the freedom to love another person, even one of your own creation, is a privilege.
I love you with all of my heart.

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