There are moments in life that take your breath away. Standing beneath the Sistine Chapel, flying over the Alps, finding out you're (finally!!) pregnant. Those are wonderful moments. They punctuate your life, creating a series of milestone that make your past recognizable as a coherent history.
But there are also moments in life that give you breath--that if you can stop for a moment and grasp them, you realize what it is that keeps you going on a daily basis. You realize why it is that you continue to unconsciously inhale and exhale your daily life. These moments are more rare than those big breathtaking events, because they are small and unconscious, and because they often go unnoticed. When you glimpse one, if you are lucky enough to take it in and realize what you are witnessing, you figure out what it is that holds everything together.
As I sat with Little Man in my grandmother's rocking chair last night, I watched J go about the same nightly ritual that happens every night. He handed me the binky, put down the side of the crib, located the wayward stuffed frog from within the sheets of our "big bed," put down the shade, and then asked if I needed anything else. This ritual started long ago, when I would need to nurse for twenty minutes or more to lull the baby into enough drowsiness that he would finally fall asleep, but now, putting Little Man to bed takes less than five minutes most nights. And yet, J still goes through the steps of making sure that I am ready to put him to bed. This is the kind of husband he is, the kind of father he has become. I watched him last night, making sure that everything was just so, dimming the lights and then finally turning them off. His darkened profile whispered a good night to the toddler in my arms, and Little Man responded by pointing at him-- his special way to tell his papa "I love you." The door shut, and suddenly, sitting in the darkness with the too-big body of my once baby in my lap, I realized suddenly and consciously all that I have.
All that my life has become.
And I took a slow and easy breath.