A sleeping baby is the closest thing in the world to perfection, Bob Dole’s comment notwithstanding*. A sleeping adult doesn’t have the same openness; emotions flicker across the sleeper’s face, an outward reflection of inner mysteries. With a sleeping baby, though, the eyelids close, the facial muscles relax, and the small, round face, the moon dictating your personal tides, radiates peace.
A week ago, the tide was gentle and low, and naptime was easy. We lay on the bed together. Cradled in my arm, she sleepily nursed as her arm draped across my chest and her legs rested on mine. Her gesture wasn’t proprietary or possessive, and it wasn’t demanding. It was more like I was an extension of her own arm and her own legs. Her head rested near my shoulder, and her warm head grew damp with her near-sleep sweat. Would she really nap? What could I get done once she was asleep? As her breathing slowed, mine did, too, and united and intertwined as we were, it’s difficult to say who slept first. Sleep has never been sweeter, and the laundry has never been less important.
Tonight I sang to her and held her, head cradled in the crook of my right arm, with my left arm wrapped over the top of her legs and my hand tucked underneath them, hugging her to me. She blinked the long, slow leisurely blinks that are precursors to sleep, the slow strobe light offering both a world of light and a world of dark. Her left arm hung down. Her right arm touched my face. Then she reached her left hand to my left hand, which rotated to meet hers. She bent her right arm so our right hands could nest together. And so she drifted off to sleep, nestled in my arms and holding my hands with hers. The blinking stopped, and my small moon shone, radiant, refulgent.
* “Former senator Bob Dole once remarked after losing a campaign, ‘I slept like a baby. I woke up every 2 hours crying'” (qtd. in Burnham and Lawler 115). Infants do – but my baby, my dear toddler, does not.
Burnham, Melissa M., Ph.D., and Jennifer Lawler, Ph.D. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sleep Training for Your Child. New York: Alpha Books, 2006. Print.