My Baby Forever

 

It started at 4 AM.  An overtired little girl, woken by the sound of her own coughing, tearfully tapping at my shoulder.  A groggy “what’s up?” answered with silence, I picked her up, surprised as always by the effort now required, and carried her back to her room across the hall.

Like many nights over the past five years, I sat us down in the rocking chair, rubbing her back and waiting for the deep breathing that would signal my duty fulfilled and my own imminent return to slumber.

As I lay her back into her bed, her eyes once more open and glistening, she confided that she was sad because she wished that she “was still my baby” and “could have stayed my baby forever.” Thinking we were nearing the end of the conversation I smiled wistfully, assuring her that she always would be, no matter how big she grew or how old she became.

That smile faded as a suddenly somber five year old informed me that “life doesn’t actually work like that.”  That even if she decided to live with me forever, eventually I was going to get old and die.

Whoa.

I held her close and promised that this wasn’t going to happen for a long, long, time, an oath that I know I have no control over keeping.

She told me that she can’t get it out of her mind. That it makes her sad.

We went back to the chair , staying that way for a long time.  I had no soothing words for her.  Platitudes and false reassurances seeming inadequate.  We rocked in silence, her head on my shoulder, my presence enough. For now.

Eventually she lay back down and I slipped away.  As I write this I sit on the back deck, doubtful of my own ability to fall back asleep.  I sit here in the dark and find myself with glistening eyes of my own.  I think about the lies that we tell, both to our children and to ourselves.  About a little more innocence lost, another crack in the wall between the naivete of youth and the fear and anxiety that follow.  About how this probably won’t be the last night spent like this.

Mostly though, I sit here in the dark and marvel at the unconditional love of a child. I sit here and wonder how I ever got so lucky, how I deserve this wonderful gift.

I sit here and think about my daughter.  My baby.

 

 

61 thoughts on “My Baby Forever”

  1. Ah this is so sweet and sad! My son is 7 and I miss when he was a baby. He’s a great kid, don’t get me wrong. But there’s something about them when they’re under 4. The sweet innocence. My daughter is almost 4 and I know pretty soon she won’t be a “baby” anymore either.

    1. Thanks David. As much as I hated losing all that sleep, I know that I’m going to look back and miss nights like that

  2. Oh man, I have had this experience over and over again…mostly with my daughters.

    Thing is, Jeremy, and you already know this–I can tell from your writing and history here…that we’re only so much further down the road of life than our kids.

    Something happens when they realize we’re just human.

    We’re no longer the ultimate or unstoppable force in the Universe.

    I agree with David above, about missing the innocence of it all–but you take all the opportunities to cuddle and give your attention. Build on this so that the relationship continues to build deeper bonds that will last HER lifetime as well as yours.

    Totally feel for you, buddy.

    …and you’re right. You’ll look back on nights like this and trust me, they’ll make all the difference in the world to you.

    I know.

    I’ve done it 12 times with 12 children.

    1. Not long after seeing one of the Avenger movies with the teen I wrote a post about how if I could gain a superpower it would be the ability to catch an occasional glimpse into their minds. I’d still take that one

  3. Ugh, rip at my heart strings. My daughter will be two next week, and I’m already amazed at how perceptive she is. Children are such amazing little beings. My daughter likes to snuggle after she has woken up, both in the morning and after her nap, and I cherish those times. Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Oh yeah, the unconditional love kids have for their mum and dad is amazing. Interestingly, our youngest daughter, who is four, has just come to terms with the issue of death and she too finds it upsetting.

  5. Jeremy, my kids are older but that doesn’t stop them from worrying. Especially since my stroke and disease. Most of the time I think we’re doing well then out of the blue one of them lets me know that their anxiety is increased exponentially knowing that I may not be here for them forever. This breaks my heart, and all I can do is give them everything I have every day. Hold on tighter, love more, smile more and help them grow. Your daughter is very lucky to have a father that realizes how special being a dad is.

  6. Such an amazing write up!
    I have had these same talks durring cuddles with my kids and it is something as a dad I still have run through my mind form time to time. I wish moments of cuddling would never end then no one would have to worry.

  7. A moment to remember. I had a tear in my eye as I read this. My little one is only a year old, but I can already imagine her as a thoughtful, questioning girl, like yours.
    #ThatFridayLinky

  8. This is so sad and sweet but I have had similar comments recently from my flipping 3 year old. She doesn’t want to me to get “old”. She asked after her great grandma who died a year ago and explaining that one was tough. I try to be honest but it’s scary and sad for them xx #thatfridaylinky

  9. My greatest fear, the one that I’ve had since the very second I became a mother, is leaving my son – I have nightmares about me dying and him being all alone. I ask my husband to make sure I’m alive when he leaves the house in the morning. It’s a fear I never had before. Having kids really changes you doesn’t it!

  10. I really feel for you both. Our girls have recently asking about death, asking if we’re going to die and if they’re going to die. I say yes, but not for a very very long time, so they don’t need to worry about it. It’s tough finding the answers and right words. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

    1. Its easy to forget how much they don’t understand or look at differently than us. Even the concept of a “long time” means something completely different in their little heads

  11. This actually made me cry mate truly beautiful I worry being a older dad that I won’t see them reach adult milestones fantastic post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please I love your writing mate always make me think

  12. Now, here I sit, my own eyes glistening. It’s so easy to overlook and underestimate children, but they really do understand so much more than most give them credit. The love that children have is so incredible, so pure. Wishing you lots of wisdom in these upcoming years with your girl, she definitely sounds like an old soul <3 #KCACOLS

  13. How sweet. My 5 year old often says she wants to be a baby again, and that she’s never going to leave me etc. Most of the time I wish the exact same thing! #KCACOLS

  14. That’s beautiful. Really nice post. I may have cried a little. It’s funny how closer they are to us and we don’t always know what’s going on in their heads about that relationship. #ThatFridayLinky

  15. I have got emotional at work reading this! A beautiful post. What is it about five year old being morbid at night. I went to tuck my son in the other night and he asked who would look after him if I died, and all the world died and he was alone. They think such big thoughts for such little people! Thank you for linking to KCACOLS. We hope to see you next Sunday x

    1. I think most people get more emotional when they are tired. I’m assuming it’s that and not a night time of dreaming that I am dead!

  16. Oh that is just so so lovely. You’re right we tell so many little lies to them and we don’t have control over So many things. If we did there is so much we would change eh. I totally agree though I do wonder how I ever got so lucky to have to wonderful children. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun

  17. Lovely post. My 6 year old has just last night had the same thoughts and he was telling me them at some very late hour. About wanting me to live until I’m 100 and how sad he’ll be when I die, if I died. Where would he live and with whom?
    So deep for such young people. I too had nothing, I couldn’t say it won’t happen because we all know it will! I have to go with it’ll be a long time and hope, wish that those are true! Lovely post #tuesdaytreasures

  18. Good god this struck a cord with me… My son went through this once following the death of a few friends and family members. He suddenly saw his Mummy and Daddy as mortal and the nights became interrupted with cries of worry…
    Life is so fragile and we can not promise anything other than to ALWAYS LOVE OUR CHILDREN. Doesnt it scare the crap out of you though?
    Thanks for joining in with #TuesdayTreasures

  19. Oh my goodness – this was heartbreakingly beautiful! I have two girls, 6 and 3 and they are both becoming aware of life passing. I’m also occasionally have this morbid thought that we never know what is around the corner and each time I hold them could be the last. It’s an important reminder that we need to savour every moment while they still are our babies.

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