I tip-toe, gently, softly, noting where the creaky floorboards are underfoot, grimacing as I nudge squeaky Sophie Le Giraffe and stand on a piece of Lego and I dramatically hold my breath for fear of waking you.
The room is cool but the air thick with your scent; a musky, slightly sweaty sweet smell of baby feet, and Play-Doh, and bath bubbles and clean sheets and your sweet breath. It’s midnight; I’m about to go to my own bed where Daddy already sleeps. I’m tired, exhausted, I’ve worked all evening and I’m bone dead knackered. But before I can sleep, I need to do this.
You both breathe so deeply, but quietly, almost silently. Side by side, in your matchy-matchy beds, both tucked under quilt and sheet, in your matchy-matchy pyjamas. I remember when you were tiny and I used to check on you and not quite believe that you were still alive. You were both so small, that it seemed impossible that you could function and work like proper human beings without me needing to be near all the time to help. I would wake you, (wake you!) just to check you were okay, and then rue my foolishness for the next hour that it took to resettle you. I did it with you Bess first, and still, even after learning that first time round, did it again with Maggie just a mere two years later. Oh, how you forget.
I look at you Bess, and you stir a little, subconsciously perhaps knowing that I am there, and the sheets rustle and fold around you, as your tiny four year old foot gets caught up in the blanket. I reach out, and hold it in my hand, and transport back to when I first held that foot; all wrinkly, teeny tiny, so small that there was room in my palm to spare, your little toes like kitten’s pads and your nails almost translucent. I’m swept back to those first moments of utter hellish exhaustion, but that were accompanied by moments like these as you lay in my arms, just the two of us in the dead of the night. I trace my finger over your beautiful nose, your profile so beautiful, so dainty, so elegant as ever it was. Your huge eyes dart under your eyelids, and I know you are dreaming of something lovely and exciting and I ache for the morning to come so I can ask you what it was.
I turn as you murmur Maggie, next to me. Lowly, so soft, incomprehensible – it’s a word, but I can’t place it. I wish I could, to be a part of that moment with you that I miss out on every night. Your eyelashes flicker like huge fans, so long and thick and form a perfect smile on the rim of your eyelid. You smile even when you sleep, my darling girl. The muted light from the landing bounces off your delicate snub nose, impossibly small, and your rosebud lips part as your dream takes over. You are so still, your chest gently rising and falling, your toddler pudgy arms clutching your baby doll.
I love these moments, in the quiet of the house, the dark wrapping around us like a cuddle, as I sit and watch you sleep. I pinch myself; I couldn’t possibly be this lucky. I desperately wanted you both to be girls, irrationally. Of course, absolutely, I would have loved and adored any boy I would have had but honestly, my heart, oh, my heart, was set on girls. And two. Two girls, two years apart. And look, here, now; I couldn’t have been more blessed with my hearts desire. My heart fills with that overwhelming, throat burning, tear causing love that makes your stomach flip and knot and makes good and fearful thoughts fill your head at the exact same time. My loves. My utter, true loves. I would do anything for you. Anything.
I know in the morning, oh too soon, that your voices will be funny, demanding, honest, bright, shrill, whiny, tinny, full of laughter, glee, tears, shouts. That our world will be full of requests, questions, arguments and subsequent apologies. I know I’ll shout, and be cross over spilt juice and the paint on the floor, and the chocolate on the sofa. I know that we’ll dance and giggle and you’ll tell me your latest made up ‘Knock Knock’ joke that never really makes sense but we all laugh anyway, and I know Maggie will find another brand new word or phrase to add to ‘It NOT IS!’ and all the other lovely, funny things that she says one hundred times a day and that I can never quite remember properly by the evening. I know we’ll have calls for ‘Dibbit!’ with lunch, or talk about a crab’s ‘snimpers’ and Bess will ask me something about how the world began, or where money comes from, or what’s in Space, and I’ll pretend that I know because Mummy’s know everything but the truth is that I am learning all the time from you both, and seeing the world for the first time, afresh, through your beautiful, enormous eyes. And I know you’ll spin around every room in the house, whirlwinds of mess, and fun, and carefree abandon.
But now, just right now, you are deliciously quiet, and still, and soft, and utterly, completely and heartbreakingly beautiful. I want to wake you, and smell you, and cuddle you and tell you I love you – but I don’t. I let you sleep, and I whisper into the quiet, dark air; ‘I Love You. Goodnight my darlings. I Love You so, so, SO.’
About Kate Dyson
Founder of The Motherload®. Wife, mum to two girls, two cats and shit loads of washing in baskets that sit around the house waiting to be ironed. It never happens.
Hater of exercise, denier of weight gain, lover of wine.
Image credit: Kate Dyson