My boy is sleeping in the room next door, his soft, steady breaths sounding on the monitor. For the past two weeks I've been home to put him to bed every night, something that I've mostly missed out on because of my work schedule. I changed jobs recently, though, and my training has allowed me to be home at bedtime every day. It's been a sweet, almost magical interlude, allowing me to create bedtime rituals that we've never really been able to share before.
Next week, my permanent schedule starts. I find myself melancholy, knowing that once again I'll be missing special cuddles and sleepy bedtime songs. I'm doing the best thing for our family, working this schedule. The pay is better and the potential for advancement greater if one is willing to work evenings. But oh, how I'm going to miss bedtime. I'll still be home for it some nights, three nights a week to be exact, but my heart aches thinking of the times I'm going to miss.
We have a song that I sing to him right before he lies down in his crib. I call it the sleepy song, and its something that I made up for him when he was a newborn, first home from the hospital as a tiny two week old preemie. The words change from time to time, but the tune is something that has a soothing power that I never imagined that I would create for someone else. When he's fussy in the car I can hum it and he calms down. When he's fighting sleep I pick him up and start to sing, and like Pavlov's dog he immediately quiets, except to murmur some of the words back to me at the end of a line.
Sleep sweet, my precious little one (Alex echoes, "little one," and I whisper, "That's you.")
Sleep sweet, the day is done and gone.
You've learned so much
You ran and played
You laughed and laughed
All through the day
And now it's time
To rest your head
To close your eyes
Snug in your bed
In the next verse he is "baby boy" and the one after that he is "baby son," phrases that he echoes back to me so sweetly that there are always tears running down my face by the time I lay him in the crib. Because I know that these nights, these sleepy cuddles and his eyes gazing intently into mine are numbered. In a few years he's going to be too big for songs like this. He's already showing signs of it, with a growing fascination with robots and trucks and dirt and rocks and all things little boy. When that time comes, I'll perch on the side of his bed and read stories to him, but always, in the back of my mind, I'll hear this special sleepy song that I made for him, my precious baby boy.