[The Kid, on a rare morning of sleeping in, about a year ago.]
The Kid had just knocked the wind out of me a bit. We typically take turns putting him to bed, but I'd been having a lot of back pain when sitting in the rocking chair in his room, so Sweet Husband had been doing the job for a week of nights.
I missed it, though, so last Wednesday night I decided to grin and bear the discomfort. I tucked him in "like a taco", turned out the lights, and sat down to do some writing while he fell asleep. That was when he pattered out of bed and over next to me.
"Mama, I need a hug."
"OK, baby," I said, as I squeezed him one last time.
"Mama, I need a hug because I miss Daddy. I want him to put me to bed."
Down went the laptop. Up came the child, curved around his sister in my belly with his head on my shoulder. And we rocked.
"Mama, do you remember when I was tiny?"
"Yup, I do."
"Not the size I am right now."
"And I would rock you in this chair and feed you and put you to sleep."
"Did I get a treat after I ate?"
"Sometimes, but you liked different treats then. Like rice puffs and applesauce."
"I'd like some more applesauce. But what are rice puffs?"
"They're not very good. They taste like cardboard."
"Can I have one sometime?"
"I guess we could get some."
"Yeah, but I need some grown-up ones."
So it was a sugar-coated punch in the gut, really. Pain to laughter in 2.2 seconds, like only a small child can do.
But somewhere rocking between the two feelings, it really hit me for the first time--that moment that hits every second-time mother, I think. When you realize that while there will always be enough love, of course, your time and attention and downright physical capacity are about to be split in half.
And while there's not a darn thing you would do to change the situation, it still makes your throat tighten. In a year or two, we'll probably have it all down such that I hardly think of it. But right now? He needs me to put him to bed, she needs me to rest for myself, and I get the wonderful/awful job of figuring out how to balance the two.
Lucky for me, he seems to have forgotten about the grown-up rice puffs, whatever the hell those may be.