I’m pretty sure that all parents check on their kids at night. Some nightly, some every now and then, but at some point in time, I’m sure that every parent has checked in on their child. I love that time period — a sleeping, peaceful child makes everything right in the world. It could have been the hardest day of parenting ever — a colicky baby, more spit up than you could have ever thought possible, blow out diapers, tantrums in the store, a child bolting out the front door of Target into the parking lot, ear infections, no sleep, vomit, food in hair, food everywhere — and standing in your child’s room watching them sleep makes it all go away.
I’m pretty sure that parents who have lost a child look at their child sleeping in even deeper ways than they did before. Sometimes I go up to check on Jack just for the reassurance of seeing his chest rise and fall because I’ve held my other son while his chest didn’t. Sometimes I listen to the sound of him breathing, and it’s one of the best sounds I’ve heard. The in and out and rhythm of life in his body is the reassurance that I need sometimes that life does go on. Sometimes I lean my face down next to his and kiss him so hard that I wake him up. Breaking one of my biggest rules of parenting [never wake a sleeping baby]. And I’ll hold my face close to his just to feel his breath on my face. Just to feel it. Just to know he’s alive.
Tonight Jack didn’t want us to leave him in his bed. He just wanted to be close to us in a sweet way tonight. But we generally are him-in-his-own-bed and he-falls-asleep-on-his-own kind of people, so we told him we loved him and shut his door like usual. He cried for awhile, and I went up to check on him and just laid down with him. Because there are nights where he needs to work it out himself and there are nights where he, where we all, need a little extra love and comfort. And tonight I looked at him and saw all the things I would be missing in 2 years. The moments I wouldn’t get to help my Gaby fall asleep. So I stayed and laid as close as I could to my firstborn in his little toddler bed. And after he fell asleep, I sat up and watched him sleeping. I watched his chest rise and fall. And I felt his breath on my face. And I kissed his cheeks extra times and extra hard because Gabriel had the same chubby cheeks that Jack has, and sometimes it’s how I get a little kiss for Gabriel, too.