Most nights I fall asleep with my husband on one side of me and the baby curled up against my other side. The preschooler, if he's joined us already, snores softly from his pallet on the floor. It's a peaceful feeling, having the three of them right there, knowing we're all safe and content and tucked in for the night.
Many nights I wake up to rustling followed by a whispered question: Can I snuggle with you for a minute?
Yes, come on up.
He does, careful not to wake his baby brother. He curls up on my stomach and I kiss the top of his head, breathe in his delicious scent. Perfect.
Eventually he gets heavy. Joints begin to ache and I shift. He accepts that as his cue to return to his pallet. Good night, I whisper, and the two of us fall asleep again.
Sometimes he sleeps all night and it is light when I hear that rustle, that whisper. His brother rarely sleeps through that snuggle, and the two of them leave a few minutes later, off to play together and share a yogurt while I doze a few minutes longer.
I join them, get their breakfast, and tell the boy how nice it was to snuggle with him for a few minutes last night. I grin at his inevitable reply, eyes wide, hopeful, but with a cheeky grin of his own: Would you like it if I snuggled with you ALL night?
I don't have to answer; he knows that as lovely as that sounds, none of us sleep well in a bed with four people.
As I was awoken again earlier this week for a middle-of-the-night snuggle, I thought of how, in time, he's not going to want to snuggle with me anymore. I won't get to kiss his soft hair and inhale his sweet scent. He'll be too big to curl up on me, and far too much of a "big boy" to even want to.
My baby's going to grow up, and one of these snuggles, one of these nights, will be our last.
And I won't even know it.
I find myself wanting to hold on to those precious lasts. The firsts are easy. I can write those down in their baby books, send out excited emails to grandparents, blog about how proud I am that my baby did this amazing new thing - just like every baby before him.
But these lasts...they're not so easy to catch, and far more bittersweet when I do.
I remember when the boy truly weaned. His brother was tucked in my womb, my milk had long dried up, and his nursing sessions had been getting shorter and shorter each night. Minutes...seconds...then less than a second, not even a real latch. I mused that he was just "kissing them goodnight" by that point. One night, instead of wanting milk, he asked to lay on them, leaning against my bare chest for a short while before climbing in bed. Then...nothing. He was truly and officially weaned.
I hold that precious last close, grateful for the sweet memory. But so many other lasts go by without my even realizing it. How many have I missed?
The realization makes every moment that much more precious to me, for who knows what last it holds.