secret sleep dance

reflection, originally uploaded by lewing.

after the sun goes to bed and the house is quiet, i find myself laying in bed with eva helping her get back to sleep. i watch her movements, her face, her little somnolent habits as she drifts off and i'm struck by this: this is an eva that no one else sees.

it's just for me, but even if i tell you, the secret is safe since you can't really know unless you're the one there night after night, watching her grow and change and yet stay the same over time. i don't mind saying, it's one of the perks of being the one who's been there for her nighttime needs her whole life. if i wasn't there all the time, quiet and waiting, i never would have noticed this subtle dance. you can't see it on a given night, only across the span of weeks and months and years.

so lying in bed when it feels the whole world is asleep, i watch her drift off. she rolls to the right if she's really going to sleep, to the left if she's not quite ready. if she's on her belly and turns her head to rest on one cheek then the other, she'll be asleep in less than three minutes. (she'll arch her eyebrows with her eyes closed, that's the sure sign.) she clutches her pal bunny, and rolls around until it is all tangled under her arms and around her belly, and kicks with her legs until her head is half hidden under the pillows above her. if she's on her back in a curious pose, limbs this way and that like a ground control marshaller signaling to a pilot, she's deep in sleep and won't be awake again for at least two hours. but that's not the case tonight. this time she rolls toward me feelling out for my hand. she sticks her lips out in a half-pucker half-monkey impersonation, then drops her jaw a bit and clucks her tongue against the roof of her mouth, a little trick she's been doing since her newborn days. (my heart knows this instinctively, as if i've always seen my child do this, for my whole life even before she arrived.)

i watch this little show and feel honored to be the one who knows all the lines and refrains by heart. there are little patterns like this, secret mama knowledge, in other parts of our day, too, but it makes a bigger impact i think in the reverie of night. some day, someone else will know a similar set of things about her, but for now i'm keeping it all for me. regardless, i'll hold this vision of of her sleep dance in my head for as long as i can.

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