Here I sit, in a corner of the nursery, the rocking chair swaying slightly as I type. She naps, the blanket rising and falling with each breath. Her head faces the wall, turned away from me; I can just make out the curl of hair on the back of her head, the curve of her ear through the wooden slats of her crib. She will sleep for half an hour, an hour if I am lucky, and then she will wake and I will settle her against my chest, convince her to rest for just a bit longer. She will protest at first, toss her head from side to side, express her frustration without ever opening her eyes, but eventually, finally, she will relax back into sleep.
That is the future, however; now, she dreams in her crib and my hands are free to write. The low, rich tones of Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites fill the small room, and I close my eyes, draw a deep breath. The music is for me, not for her; Yo-Yo Ma demonstrates his skill, weaves his spell, and I hope that somehow, with his inspiration in the background, I might do the same with my words.
Were you to ask me, I would probably tell you I sit here for her sake, that she sleeps more soundly, settles more easily if I am here with her. Don’t believe it, not for a moment; though I’ve never tried, I’m sure I could sneak out if I wanted. If I did, however, I would feel the obligation to put that time to good use, to wash the dishes or scrub the stove or start that sewing project that’s been on my list for far too long, and this brief time has become too much of a sanctuary for me to give it up just yet. And so I use this small bit of self-deception, this quiet half-truth that she needs me here, and I sit here in the quiet, in the calm, and I write.
It is a luxury, I know, to have the space to sit and to write and to watch her sleep. A time will almost certainly come when I will have other responsibilities; she herself will probably prevent me from having a similar routine with future babies. I will learn to tuck my writing into spare moments throughout the day, ten minutes of rapid typing here, a quick edit there, getting up early or staying up late to make the words happen – or they won’t happen at all. I do not take this block of time, cut short only when she wakes, for granted.
It is a luxury, and there are times when I wonder whether I am using this time well, whether I am squandering these precious minutes I am given when she is small and my load is lighter than it will be in the future. Even as I wonder, though, I am grateful. I know this time won’t last forever. I know a day will come when her schedule will change. She will outgrow her afternoon nap. She won’t need me as much anymore. She will eventually leave the crib and the nursery behind, move to a toddler bed and then a twin. She will grow up, and this quiet time of watching her sleep will end.
That day will come all too soon, I fear, and so until then, I will revel in this luxury. Until then, I will treasure this time to write and to watch. Until then, I will put off my need for productivity and I will savor the slow.
This season will one day come to an end, but until that day, you will find me here in my rocker in the corner of the nursery, weaving words together as I watch her sleep.