He repeats his request each night as I go to nurse his little brother off to sleep. "Yes, I'll come," I always reply. "Good night."
I turn my attention to the baby. He's not such a baby anymore, walking and talking and counting and using the potty, but oh, he's still my baby. He nurses for a while, his ever-fidgeting hands flying all over the place. He sticks a finger in my mouth and I nip at it; he stops nursing long enough to grin at me in response.
Eventually he stops, or I stop him, and I sit beside him while he wiggles and fidgets and whispers to sleep. Sometimes I get drawn in, laying nose-to-nose with him and giggling at our silliness. Finally his body stills and his breathing deepens. I brush a kiss across his cheek and inhale his sweet scent before I leave. He is perfection, this sleeping child of mine.
I leave our bedroom and head down the hall to the kids' bedroom, where the older one is waiting for me to "say goodnight and snuggle and talk" with him. Sometimes he's asleep when I get there. I kiss his warm forehead in the dark and whisper a prayer over him before silently leaving.
But when he's awake, I scoot him over and sit down beside him. We talk about our day - the best parts, the worst parts - and about our plans for tomorrow. I don't know what it is about that dark room after bedtime, but somehow it makes the whispers run even more freely than usual. He tells me his thoughts and worries, hopes and confessions. He asks me his biggest questions, often questions so big that I hardly know where to begin in answering them. I wish I had all the answers, darling.
Eventually I bid him a good night, returning shortly with a glass of water in exchange for one last hug and kiss. "I love you, sweetheart."
"I love you too, Mommy."