Sweet Dreams and Tired Arms
It may be hard to let go of worry and your 'to-do' list in order to hold a sleeping grandchild--but it is so worth it.
My seven-month-old grandson Callister has been uncharacteristically fussy today. It was obvious he was in desperate need of a nap, but he couldn’t calm down as easily as he usually does. I rocked him, I fed him, I sang to him, but still he struggled, rubbing his eyes and kicking his legs in a frantic, exhausted frenzy. All my usual tricks to calm him failed, so I changed his position, putting his head on my shoulder as I gently rubbed his head and supported his back and diaper-clad bottom with my arm. Within seconds, he was sleeping soundly enough that I switched him to his regular “in my arms” position.
I needed to move him to his crib, not an easy feat for me to gracefully hoist myself and an eighteen-pound baby from a rocking chair and smoothly complete the transfer without waking him. I kept thinking, “Now I’ll do it,” yet now never happened. After about thirty minutes I resigned myself to the fact I was simply going to hold him as he slept. I had laundry to do, floors to sweep and a blog to write, yet in that quiet, darkened room, the demands of the day slowly faded away until nothing existed for me but that precious bundle of love in my arms. I gazed at him, marveling at how much this small creature had changed my priorities and in fact my life, in just seven months.
An hour had passed, and his nap continued. My arm began to fall asleep, my bladder reminded me I was no longer the young mother but instead the grandmother, and my neck cried out for support in the chair obviously made for a much shorter grandparent.
My brain began to get fidgety. My mind has become addicted to constant activity, whether it’s reading, writing, wasting time on social media or watching television. When was the last time I simply sat silently, not clutching a cell phone in my hand, afraid I might miss a text or call? Not one to ever let a chance to worry go wasted, I thought about how it probably wasn’t good to hold him while he slept. Would his parents disapprove that I was getting him out of his routine, being the overindulgent grandmother by holding him as he slept? Was I undoing their sleep training?
I guess I wasn’t concerned enough because I decided this was one of the sweet moments in which you need to fully immerse yourself. I took a deep breath and reassured myself it’s ok to let the concerns go and live in the moment. I gazed down at the increasingly heavy bundle in my arms, and everything else drifted away as I drank in the clean, new baby smell, felt the soft skin of his pink cheek and the downy chick fuzz of his hair. After almost two hours, Callister began to stir, opened his eyes, looked up at me and awarded me with his big, toothless smile, assuring me I made the right choice.
Someday Callister will probably have siblings, so I will have many more chances at holding sleeping babies, but it will never be quite the same. As all of us that had more than one child can attest to, the subsequent children and grandchildren don’t get our undivided attention. It’s not that the love is any less, but the reality is that it’s almost impossible to hold a sleeping baby while a toddler sibling is busy crashing trucks and begging for another cracker. This peace is going to be short lived. The dirty laundry isn’t going anywhere, the cat will probably eat the crumbs under the highchair and look, the blog just wrote itself. Today I learned an indisputable truth – hold the sleeping baby every chance you have!