The baby will wake, often, up and down, eyes popping wide and fading shut, and it will be a running joke in your family that you, the mother, will be physically unable to lull him to sleep. The baby will have figured you out, he will have found the loophole. When he cries out and reaches up from his crib in the dark, he will learn to put his tiny hands on the face of the one who comes to him. If he feels the prickly stubble of a father’s chin, he knows it’s back to bed.
But if he feels the softness of your own cheek, the softness of a head-over-heels pushover, he’ll know what’s to come. There will be babbling, cuddles, a bit of milk. Shh, you will say. You will pat him on the back, rock him gently. Shh, shh, shh. He will play along for a bit, head on your chest, until his finger will find its way into your eardrum and he will laugh like a midnight manic.
You’ll know then he’ll be awake for another hour or so, at least.
It will be the worst.
It will be the best.
It will be your mother mind begging/pleading/willing him to sleep – there is work to be done, a project to finish – while your mother body will hold him tight, arms an envelope, in full awareness that this is a moment to be missed. That there is something to pay attention to here, to learn from, to be mesmerized by – a swirly patch of hair on his forehead, the rise and fall of a lung, the reflex of a curled toe.
It will be your mother heart, ready to comfort and rock and help and soothe, but maybe a little less, or maybe on her own terms, or maybe not at 4am.
You will need to be wanted, but you will not want to be needed quite so much.
Until you do. Until his eyes are finally closed and his door is finally closed and your hands will be free to type and make coffee and scratch your elbow and you’ll find that, for a moment, you already miss the weight of his body.
You’ll smile, shake your head. Laugh at the humdrum voodoo of it all.