Tonight, like most nights, I sleep smushed between my two babies.
On my left, Lily mumbles in her sleep from a bad dream, kicking around and rubbing her eyes until she finally drifts back to sleep. On my right, Augustine breathes quietly, rhythmically, rests with his arms sprawled out, his belly full of milk.
Somewhere on the other side of the bed surrounded by a fortress of pillows rests my love, and though he feels so far away all the way on the other side of the bed, some nights I reach past Lily to hold onto his hand.
I used to long for to the days when our bed would be our own again. When our children would sleep in their own rooms, all night, and nobody would be crying for me or needing to be cuddled back to sleep.
And I still do look forward to them, as I'm learning to look forward to any season of life. But for some reason I feel like I'm beginning to really understand how quickly our children are growing and how much it is going to ache when they aren't here on either side of me.
As Lily closed her eyes tonight I asked her, "What am I going to do when you don't want to cuddle with me anymore?"
And she said, "I'm going to fall in love with a boy who never wanted to fall in love."
"And you'll have babies to cuddle with?"
"Yeah, but I'll still cuddle with you sometimes but just not very much."
"And can I cuddle with your babies? When I'm old can I come live with you and you'll take care of me, and then I can babysit for you while you go out and have fun?"
And her whole life seems to be rushing towards us. She starts preschool in the fall, and I'll never have these days back. These seemingly endless days of being home with her, without plans or places to go? Just Lily and Mama (and Augustine, now). These conversations that I have with her as she falls asleep. Someday those will be over, and though the joy of watching her grow is so strongly present in my heart, it aches to know that she won't always be this close. Oh, how it aches.
The way, when she was a baby, that she would fall asleep on my lap or in my arms. Those days are already over, even.
When Augustine was newly born he would sleep curled up on my chest at night and it was one of those things that filled me with so much joy. And I was so careful to treasure each moment because I knew one night would come when he would be too big to sleep that way. And it happened almost without me noticing it. Life sped up, my son grew and grew, and at some point he wanted to sleep flat on his back, he didn't need me to hold him anymore.
So now I know, with such clarity and gravity, that one day I will wake up without my children beside me.
They'll be in their own rooms, fast asleep. They won't need me in this way anymore.
And then? They'll be out of my home and in the world. Like that.
One day I'll wake up and my children will be grown. This is a truth I am aware of in almost every day I spend with them. They rest in my arms, they need me to hold them, they want to know I'm near, they are comforted by me. They learn to crawl, walk, run, jump -- they grow in every way and our relationship grows with it. There is joy to be found in every one of these moments with them and I'm holding tight to these days where they are holding tight to me.
So I'm going to treasure every moment of their childhood, I'll savor every night that I am here beside them, every time one of them falls asleep in my arms or beside me, because I know they won't last forever.