Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ode to the village

I was up tonight, pacing the floor with a very upset, teething Bug, trying everything to comfort her. She cried and cried, her body tense with pain and frustration. I rocked, patted, consoled, nursed, replaced pacifier, massaged gums, ended up giving her Tylenol...and while I was waiting for the Tylenol to take effect, I found myself holding her cradled in my arms, her body pressed into mine, sideways, just as I did when she was a newborn.

Suddenly, I realized my body had fallen into a familiar, forgotten rocking, stepping rhythm. Rock left, deep knee bend, right toe point...rock right, deep knee bend, left toe point...It came out of nowhere. Almost unconsciously, I started patting her bottom in time with the rocking. Her eyes widened, her crying stopped...and then her eyelids began to flutter as she rooted for her pacifier, started sucking, and began to breathe more evenly and deeply.

I kept up the rocking as a feeling of wonder swept over me. This same rocking step had comforted her countless times in her early days, weeks and months when nothing else would. She had been so tiny, so fussy...her tummy so irritable that she writhed with discomfort every time she was fed. She spit up everywhere and on everyone. Yet somehow, although she and I were nearly strangers, I knew how to move to help her, learned her dance and danced it with her over and over again, quieting her cries, helping her to sleep.

She's so different smiley, so cheerful, a bouncy, happy girl with shining eyes. Her once angular cheeks are downright chubby, and she has developed several chins.

Still rocking side to side and pointing my toes (a teensy bit less vigorously now that she was calming down), I smiled broadly, thinking of how many of my friends had learned this dance and had danced it with my little daughter. I pictured Kira, eyebrows raised as she watched me demonstrate, making a joke about Jazzercise before taking over the dance herself. Kristin, rocking with all her might, telling The Bug that her legs were not yet as toned as mine were and that she'd need a break. Megan, cooing softly to The Bug as she rocked. Cindy, who instinctively added the bottom patting motion and rocked back and forth with gusto, undeterred by The Bug's tiny size. Irina, rocking with authority, laughing about what level of intervention The Bug needed to resolve her crisis of the moment. Andi, who instructed another tentative would-be rocker, "She likes to MOVE. More than that." Lisa, who always told me (and continues to tell me) how much The Bug had filled out, how well she was growing, how good a job I was doing. How willing they all were to take my little girl into their arms and do whatever it took to help her, to help me.

How could I have made it this far without all of them? I'll never know, and I'm glad I don't have to. I'm not exactly sure how we got here, with these big 9 month old baby girls, but we did. I squinted, trying to make out The Bug's face in the dark, feeling the weight of her in my arms, thinking that she was getting heavy for this rocking. I didn't remember the last time we had done this little dance. It's funny how those everyday things that are so much a part of life for what feels like a very long time can just fade away...I had almost forgotten that I used to rock her this way. A lump rose in my throat as I realized that I probably won't do this dance with her too many more times. Suddenly, this moment together in the dark felt like a gift.

As The Bug's eyelids fluttered more and more slowly and her body began to relax, I reluctantly lowered her into her crib and stroked her head. She sighed, turned over on her side, went to sleep. I paused, looking at her, appreciating how much space she took up, remembering when she and her sister slept side by side across a single crib mattress.

My arms felt empty without her in them. I could just scoop her back up, hold her tight against me, not let her go.

Instead, I backed out into the hallway, closed the door gently behind me, smiled about my friends and decided to remind them about the dance.

We can't stop time. The girls are growing, and they won't be babies for much longer. My arms will be empty more and more.

But thanks to my friends, my heart will be full.