I think it was at my baby shower that some well-meaning mother gifted me a copy of the children’s book “Love You Forever.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it is about a mother who sneaks into her son’s room every night when he is sleeping, picks him up, rocks him, and sings him a song about some kind of unhealthy attachment that she tries to pass off as love.
I always thought it was a fucking weird, creepy-as-hell book.
I still think it is a weird, creepy-as-hell book. I have no intention of picking up my daughter when she is asleep, or driving across town when she is an adult, breaking and entering in order to sing her a lullaby when she is already happily and naively asleep.
But I do sneak into her room– a closet, in our Manhattan apartment– to watch her sleep.
I’m not being metaphorical when I say “closet.” It’s literally a closet. She sleeps next to the towels and storage.
I can’t explain it, and I certainly can’t justify it, but there is something magical about watching your child sleep. It must be something hard-wired into parents because otherwise we’d all shove our children into freezers or abandon them in dumpsters, but no matter how difficult the day has been, no matter how many new teeth have sprouted or how many new words haven’t yet sprouted, you can’t help but feel a fluttering in your chest and an outpouring of love for your child when she is fast asleep.
Maybe I better speak only for myself, and not for the parents who actually do shove their kids into freezers or abandon them in dumpsters. Some people do that, you know. I have nothing but empathy for both the kids and the parents.
But I just melt seeing Zoe sleep, seeing her tiny butt raised high into the air, her tiny knees tucked underneath in the same way they were tucked in my belly for a good, long nine months, seeing her face squished hard into the blankets, so hard that it will leave marks when she wakes up, and seeing her sweaty, matted hair adorning that sweet face.
I still strongly dislike the book “Love You Forever.” But I have some inkling o what this mother is getting at. Every night I feel reenergized about my post as a mother. Every night I feel more committed to caring about my child to the best of my ability. These feelings don’t disappear with the break of day. Certainly it’s harder to love a toddler while they are awake and these feelings may fade to the background on the really tough days, but they are always there. At night time, I just get dumped with a bucket-load of the stuff. Love, love, love. There are songs about that, you know. Not about watching your kid sleep, but about love.
It’s a good thing. I probably wouldn’t like the other kind of song.
Zoe, if you grow older and for some unfathomable reason actually read this and get creeped out just like I would, I offer no excuses. Yes… it’s weird. I don’t know what to tell you. I love you long time, crazy kiddo. It is a privilege to know you. I can’t wait to see you again when you wake up in an ungodly five hours. Not all mothers can say that.
For now, I’ll let you rest in undisturbed peace. Goodnight you little cherub, you. Until tomorrow and until tomorrow night.