tonight i put norah to bed even though the normal routine is mommy does bath and teeth brushing, then daddy does storytime and snuggles before laying her down. however we had dinner at mark's brother's house and afterwards gave norah and her cousin a bath together. we drove the mile back to my in-laws (oh yea, we're staying with them for a couple days. did i mention that?) and she was still awake and asking to nurse so i decided i would take over bed time.
the room was dark and cool, and we each slipped into our PJs and snuggled under the covers. she nursed for only a minute or two before reaching for her binky and rolling over, her animal friends tucked under her arms. it would have been easy to pick her up and lay her in the pack n play, but i decided to just stay with her for a little longer.
as i lay there with my nose on her neck, inhaling the sweet baby smell that still lingers on her soft skin, i said a silent prayer and thanked our God in Heaven for that moment. so easily i forget to just feel her skin, really feel it i mean. i ran my fingers along her arms and felt that baby softness that will only be here for a short while longer. as she gets older i know her skin will look more like mine, with marks and scars that prove the passage of time. tonight i remembered just to look at her and breathe in everything that she is. that soft soft skin, her sweet baby smell, and her small little body pressed into mine. this was such a happy moment, but i couldn't help but feel a little sad.
tonight is the last night that norah will ever be as small as she is. as that thought circled my mind i couldn't bring myself to leave the bed. i wanted to stay with her forever in that moment, and never ever leave. it is so painful, this thing called motherhood. the heart that once beat inside of you and now is alive in your arms will one day be too big to stay there. one day my arms will be empty but i know my heart never will. moments like these i tuck away, safe in the reserves of my memory, for days and years to come.
i brushed back her hair and the words "i love you so very much" whispered into her ear. i picked up that teeny little body and made my way to her bed. as i laid her down and covered her up the sadness i felt was replaced with a surge of love. i kissed her cheek and i realized that i didn't have to be sad because this moment will never leave me. as long as i am alive, i will carry this night in my heart. norah will grow and she'll no longer need me to put her to bed, but i will close my eyes and remember.
i will always have tonight.