It’s 7:00 pm.
I take the baby and lock us in the master bedroom with strict commands to the rest of the family, including the cat, to leave me and the baby alone. No hugs goodnight (I’ll take care of those later), no asking permission for anything, no cute story telling. Nothing. Don’t even tell me if the house is on fire. I will smell it, thankyouverymuch.
I arrange my pillows just-so, grab my phone, and settle in to nurse the baby. Lydia and Daddy are making a lot of noise in the hall and I wince while holding my breath until I am sure the baby is not distracted. I want to send a message to those pals in the hall that their noise is not appreciated, but I know if I make a sound, I will be spending the next 20 minutes in an intensive session of alligator wrestling training — with my 9 1/2-month-old as the ferocious alligator twisting her body in impressive ways to get a visual of the source of all that racket.
It’s been a long day.
All I want to do is zone out by reading celebrity gossip and checking facebook updates on my phone.
Then I look down at the serene baby who is miraculously undisturbed by the commotion in the hall. She is studying me with her serious eyes. I feel a need to tell her something.
I set my phone on the bed, pull her even closer, and sing her a song about Jesus. When I finish that lullaby, there is another one waiting in the wings and I allow it to take its turn floating through the air. I discover there is an entire ensemble of lullabies behind the curtains, each cast member ready and eager to take center stage.
My husband breaks the cardinal rule of nighttime nursing and enters the room. The baby notices, the alligator wrestling commences, but I am not mad (this time). I see her toothy smile upside down as she bends her body to see her daddy on the other side of the room.
He sees it too, and swoops in to deliver a deluge of kisses to her face, each kiss bringing a bigger smile and a louder giggle. When he pulls away, the smile remains but the laughter stops. She stares in his direction and makes one distinct grunt. He obeys her command and covers her face once again. She plays the same grunting game, and he complies.
I regretfully shoo him from the room so I can finish nursing. She sits up and forces her finger in my mouth — it’s another of her games, and while I don’t particularly enjoy the invasion, I love the giggles that result, so I play along and make the silly faces she adores.
The minutes tick by and I decide to get down to business. We alligator wrestle until she is peacefully nursing once more. When she is done, I take her to her room and, still relishing in the glow of lullabies, sing her half a dozen more. She rests her head peacefully on my shoulder until I lay her in the crib.
I tiptoe from the room and visit her sister where we snuggle and talk about the best and worst parts of the day. She protests loudly when I try to leave and I silently think how relieved I am she still loves me in spite of all the rotten moments of the day.
Once I am able to pry myself from her grasp, I hear the baby crying through the wall.
“Oh, Emma’s crying Mama,” Lydia tells me with concern. “You better go help her.”
And so I do. Tonight, I have an army of lullabies on my side.