“Is she asleep?” I ask. My husband nods. Though I’m with our daughter all day, my husband always handles one part on his own: Bedtime.
He comes home late from work and he has less than an hour to spend with our little one. He gives her milk, rocks her in the chair, and carries her to crib. He may miss everything else while he’s out working, but at the end of his day, he looks forward to spending those special moments with her.
He lies down next to me. “I kept some of her toys in my pocket and I asked her if she wanted Big Bird or Elmo. She looked up at me and whispered ‘Elmo, in an egg.’” Our daughter loves putting her small toys in Easter Eggs, so we always have a few laying around the house for her to play with.
He tells me about the faces she makes, the adorable phrases she utters, how she pulls her covers up to her chin and clutches her stuffed lamb before closing her eyes. Even though I see her all day long, it’s so different hearing him describe her.
I brush my teeth and see my husband down the hall. He’s getting ready to check in on our daughter. I tip-toe down the darkened hall toward him and whisper, “Can I come with you?”
He gingerly turns the knob to her nursery door, and we sneak in like two thieves. I look down at my beautiful two-year-old daughter, sound asleep on her side with her little head on a tiny pillow, one hand cupping the yellow Easter egg that contains her tiny Elmo figurine, and I hold my breath.
I carefully reach my hand down and stroke her soft blond hair, her porcelain cheek, her plump little arm, waiting for her to move, to wake, but she doesn’t. I stare at her as though I’ve never seen her before. For a moment I’m reminded of the first time her gray eyes looked into mine. Part of me wants to capture the moment as I normally do, by snapping a quick photo so that we never forget, but I don’t move to grab my camera.
I’m not going to forget these minutes or this feeling. I’m not going to jeopardize this moment because it’s as perfect as moments come.
Marisa Svalstedt is a stay-at-home mom living in Bethel, Connecticut. She received her MA in English from Western Connecticut State University.
Image: Lovelorn Poets