The ball of my foot pushes the rocker back, and the chair makes a soft creak as it falls forward again in rhythm. This chant is familiar and comfortable. My eyes flutter open and then close gently with the rocking motion, weary babe suckling, heavy in my arms. There is a soft breeze on his cheeks, same as mine, from the ceiling fan, and the evening light that slants through the spaces in the blinds sways over his body. We mark time in this place, countless times a day, but it is also the constant paradox of small lives that in this space time also stops. I faintly hear the bigger Little Ones in the family room, cheering one happy moment, and just as quickly erupting into shrieking squabble. Their story is not mine for just this minute, and I leave them to do what siblings do. The drone of their play is mere harmony for this, rocking and nursing with the Littlest of all. I fill his tiny belly, nourish his being, and receive my blessing. His small fingers wrap playfully around the fabric of my shirt, rubbing and twisting until they no longer do. Rest comes.
The fabled calm at the end of the day seems so beyond reach in the marching orders of bedtime: to the bathroom! clothes in the hamper! brush those teeth! There is little reserve left, and Little Ones don’t quickly listen; I am too quick with harsh tone. This gray time between emptying and refilling are confusing at best. Sometimes a drink of water is just a drink of water. But we make room in the bed for one more body, squeeze in tight for a story. Together we lift up our day, finding redemption in the retelling and being held by the One who hears it all. We make haste with one more hug and kiss; dash down the stairs with kisses blown. Often there is a hungry dog waiting, too, and a sink full of dishes.
Then, later, in the grown-up hours, after a glass of wine and hands entwined, together, we watch those bodies seem so small. We tiptoe close in, grasp tightly to door knobs, feeling the turn so as not to click awake those Little Ones, and let our prayers out in sighs heavy with the day’s weight. Small, round bellies rise and fall in rhythm. Night’s light dulls the edges, blurs day’s brilliance into haze. Now it is with full peace that I cross my fingers over foreheads, sweep sweaty hair behind tiny ears, and kiss baby lips.
And then it is again, the fullness of night bearing down on our house in small hours, I waken to barely a cry, stumble sleep-drunk to the nursery. I press his not-yet-awake body to mine, sink deeply into the chair. I lift my shirt. And again, press the ball of my foot against the floor, sending the chair creaking, the weight of my body and his, my world, back and forth, rocking.