I rocked my toddler to sleep tonight.
Even though I knew I ‘shouldn’t.’
Even though my husband gave me the this-is-not-a-good-idea look.
Even though I was hungry and hadn’t eaten dinner yet.
Even though I had been on a roll finishing up work emails when she asked.
Even though I probably could have gotten her down in her crib easily enough without having rocked her.
Even though we hadn’t rocked her to sleep in months.
I rocked her for one main (simple) reason: Because she asked me to.
And I’m glad I did.
Because when I rocked her, I felt her little hand rest on my chest.
I felt her body calm down and sink into me.
I heard her breath go in and out, in and out, along with the gentle hum of her favorite song.
I smelt her shampoo as I nestled close to her and kissed her forehead.
I rubbed her back and held her tight.
I felt how happy she was to hear me say ‘yes.’ To know I wanted to be right there with her in that exact spot.
I thought about all the times I rocked her when she was a baby—each night when she went to sleep, each time I nursed her in our rocking chair, each time she was upset.
But I hadn’t rocked her in months. Because she can fall asleep on her own now in her crib in the room she shares with her big sister. Because she hasn’t nursed for about six months. And because I mostly just hug and kiss her when she’s upset—she’s often too busy running around to settle in for a long rocking session.
But tonight was different. Tonight, I did rock her.
I chose a moment of peace with my middle daughter—in a time of my life when I feel the impossible task of trying to split my attention evenly among my three children, my husband and my job—and it has been weighing heavily on my heart.
I chose to slow down—in a time in my life when ‘hectic’ and ‘busy’ are the two words I use most when people ask me how things are going. A time when I feel like I’m always going, always doing, always fixing.
I chose the ‘wrong’ sleep solution for my toddler—because she’ll be two in a few weeks and I don’t know where the time has gone. I need these sweet moments with her when, instead of actually falling asleep, she’s whispering and giggling in my ear—making me feel like the luckiest mama in the world.
I chose to indulge her—because she’s still my baby, even though she is acting more and more like a big girl every day. I need to be reminded of her littleness. She may say “I do it myself” around 100 times a day, but she still needs me and my help. And I find great comfort in that.
I chose to put my needs aside—because I knew my dinner would be there when I was done rocking. My belly would soon be full, but in this moment, I really needed my heart to be full—full of cuddles from my Lucy. It was a long day, and I didn’t see her for some of it because of work. I missed her and needed to squeeze in some quality time with her today.
I chose to be patient with bedtime tonight—because I’m often hurrying through it. Or passing it off completely to my husband. I decided I didn’t mind if it took a little longer tonight, so long as I could slow down and calm down along with my daughter.
Toddlers are not always easy. That’s for sure. They’re little people with big emotions. They’re trying to figure it all out—they can go from extreme happiness to deep sadness then frustration and anger and back to happiness and laughter—all in the matter of minutes. If it feels like a lot for us to keep up with, it’s definitely a lot for them to keep up with.
And my baby is trying. She’s trying to learn and grow and make everyone happy. She’s trying to do things for herself and be a big girl like her sister.
But tonight she just wanted her mama. She chose me—rocking in a quiet room with me. And I’m glad she did.
And I’m glad I did.