The clock reads 6 pm. It’s almost dark outside, but a little bit of light still creeps in through the window. The salt lamp glows softly on the shelf and the humidifier hums in the corner, but the room is otherwise silent. With my toddler tucked comfortably in her sleep sack — pacifier in her mouth and stuffed puppy tucked under her arm — we sit down together in the rocking chair, and I sigh. I feel like I can finally breathe.
Together, we rock. At first, she’s giggly and talkative. We read a few books, and she points out all of the animals and babies, and mommies and daddies. Eventually, she gets restless, and I turn her around so she’s lying on my chest with her head on my shoulder. “Dada” comes in and we say prayers together, and then he leaves and we sing songs. She begins to breathe more slowly, sinks more deeply into my shoulder.
Some nights, we rock for 10 minutes. Some nights, 20. I forget about the dinner that I need to make and the toys that I need to put away. I forget about the tantrum that she threw three hours earlier, and how I spent too much time scrolling through my phone when I was too tired to deal with said tantrum.
I remember the books that we read together and the giggles that we shared. The moments when she pushed my buttons, and the moments that made my heart melt.
Back and forth, we rock some more, until she shows me she’s ready for her crib. Sometimes she’ll rub her eyes, sometimes she can’t stop yawning, and sometimes, she’ll point to her beloved Clifford, another stuffed favorite that sits in her crib.
We get up from the chair, I kiss her goodnight, and she lays down in her crib with her animals and blanket. I dim the light on the salt lamp, and close the door behind me.
Many nights, she’ll wake up again in a few hours. Some nights, she’ll fight it until she finally talks herself to sleep. Some nights, she’s out within minutes.
But every night, I look forward to that breather. My time to reflect on the day that we had, forget about the things that could’ve went differently, and snuggle with my otherwise “energizer bunny” baby.
It’s my favorite time of day, and I will forever cherish it.