Lila has always been kind of a mama's girl, but lately has taken her love of mama to a new level. If anyone else is holding her (even Ryan) and they come near me, she immediately makes a dive to try to get to my arms, instead--even if she had been perfectly content before she saw me. If one of the boys comes to sit on my lap, you can be sure she will be there within seconds, yelling and pulling a their shirts to try to move them off my lap--even if she had been across the room doing her own thing before the boys had the audacity to try to sit on her mama's lap. If I'm laying on the ground at all during my morning exercise, she thinks I've given her an open invitation to come lay on top of me. Honestly, I think it's sweet that she loves me; but it can also be a little maddening.
One of her more endearing mama's girl habits, though, that has only emerged over the last week or two, is her cuddles. She hasn't been napping amazingly (that's not the endearing part), but she has been waking up in quite a cuddly mood. Her first order of business upon me lifting her out of her crib is to lay her head down on my shoulder and park it there for the next 5-20 minutes, depending on her mood. Even when she has had an excellent nap, she still gives me her ritual post-sleeping cuddle. And it's just so cute.
Earlier this week, she had commenced the cuddling and continued to do so while I walked down the stairs. She seemed extra groggy, so I swayed with her for a minute before settling down onto the couch. A few minutes later, I realized she had fallen asleep leaning against me. For some babies, falling asleep on mama wouldn't be an oddity; but for Lila, it was quite strange. She hasn't been willing to fall asleep on me without a gigantic battle since she was around seven months old. So on that day, when she fell asleep on me after her nap, I was shocked. She woke up just a few minutes later and was done cuddling soon thereafter, but still.
Then yesterday came. And Lila took an awful nap. Asher was asleep, so I told Reed he could play his game thing and asked him to stay out of Lila's room. I went in, gathered up my crying girl, and rocked her. She cuddled, of course, and let me rock her for a long time. I think she was in and out of sleep for a little while, but it was hard to tell since her face was burrowed into my neck. As I rocked her, I started to think of how many hours I've logged in that rocking chair. We had a different rocking chair with the boys, so Lila has been the only baby I've rocked in this particular chair--but I've rocked a lot. That chair is where I nursed her once she started being too distracted by the boys running around--and we spent a lot of time nursing. That chair is where I've rocked her before almost every nap and bedtime of her life. That chair is where I'd hold her in the dark to the background of her noisemaker, trying not to make any sudden movements, because I'd finally gotten her back to sleep after one of her signature 20-minute naps and she needed to stay asleep or we'd all go crazy.
Lila was such an awful napper when she was little--really, awful. She'd be relatively pleasant, even if she didn't really nap, so you'd think it wouldn't matter that she was an awful napper. Then you'd try to put her down for her next nap, and the going to sleep part would be harder and the staying asleep part would be shorter. She was happy when she was awake, but the more tired she got, the more awful her sleep was. And if her daytime sleep was horrible, her nighttime sleep was extra bad. I spent a lot of time holding her and not a lot of time doing anything else at all. To get us out of the overtired cycle, I made a compromise: if she was sleeping poorly, I'd hold her for one nap a day, so I could ensure she got at least one solid nap a day so we wouldn't perpetuate the cycle of sleeplessness. My deal worked for the most part--the boys would either by sleeping or quiet-timing and if they weren't they'd usually play together decently in their room or downstairs while I held the baby. But my deal also meant that I spent at least an hour each day in a dark room, sitting in my rocking chair.
At first I passed the time on facebook or pinterest or instagram, perusing various blogs, generally doing nothing, really. After a while, though, I decided to start reading talks from General Conference. I read my way through the entire April 2013 conference, then moved back to the October 2012 conference, and then on to the April 2012 conference. I began to appreciate the solitude of holding sleeping Lila in the dark while reading these conference talks. When Lila did finally become a sleeper and I didn't spend an hour of each day holding her, I found I missed that quiet time with her.
The other day, when I found myself once again rocking an almost-sleeping baby in a dark room in my rocking chair, my thoughts drifted back to those days of trying to get Lila to sleep. I remember telling myself during those months that I needed to be savoring this. That one day I was going to miss holding a sleeping baby. That even though those first few months with three kids were really more about surviving than anything else, I needed to remember what it felt like to hold a sweet, sleeping baby who felt safe in my arms and who I loved completely. Holding my still sweet, though not-so-little sleeping baby yesterday reminded me of that. Too often, I'm waiting for the next thing. The big things, like Reed starting Kindergarten and potty-training Lila (soon) (maybe), and the small things, like when it's going to be naptime and what time I need to get dinner started and when we need to leave to pick up Reed. And I worry that I'm missing the in-between things, those living-in-the-moment things people like to talk about. My back-to-school goals and schedule have made me more motivated to finish my to-do list things so I can then pause and notice what's happening right now; now I just need to take the opportunity to do so. I want to stop worrying about next and start focusing on now.