I try to make it a point each night to watch my children sleep. It’s a great end to any given perfect day, and the perfect end to many not-so-great days. It reminds me that they do have an off switch, and I can snuggle them as much as I want without protest, and for another few hours until the end of the day, they are frozen in time and still my babies who need me.
Last night, as I was rocking Bean to sleep, her round face burrowing in the crook of my arm, her entire hand wrapped tightly around my one finger, I was struck with the sheer delicacy of her little body.
Her fuzzy little head is full of hair as black as mine, and growing thicker and longer every day.
Her eyes, so eager and alert, taking in a fresh and exciting world, seeing the same things I see, but with newness and wonder.
The crest of her ears, like a familiar maze leading to a hidden cave where whispers are held, each sound either lovely or confusing or harsh. The canals inviting my voice and sending me home with a smile, or the sound of a raspberry blown on her skin, a puzzling noise to match a puzzling sensation, or a loud and sudden bang that shakes her very core, and she doesn’t understand if everything will be okay until she hears my voice again, a promise that it will.
Her forehead, wrinkling in curiosity, as the little brain inside her skull processes and grows a little bit bigger and smarter every single minute, gray matter making new connections to the limbs attached to her body, as she learns to roll over, or to sit up, or to put that foot into this mouth.
It takes some concentration and a few tries before she can reach and grab exactly what she was aiming for, and yet her new lungs are old pros at filling her chest with oxygen. Her sweet heart is a master at pumping fresh blood through her impossibly tiny veins, violet branches visible through her soft, soft skin, in the exact same places mine run, though mine are longer and thicker. Her spine, the ridge of each nerve-filled vertebra so small, so tight, like a staircase for fairies. Her bones, fragile cartilage that grow more solid with each meal, more purposeful with each movement, for now simply holding the shape of her body, but will one day help her run and jump and climb and dance.
Her fingers and toes, chubby, minuscule replicas with wrinkles and folds and bends that mimic my own, each nail bed smaller than a pea. The soles of her feet are smooth like jazz, not yet callused with the constant task of walking. Her ankles and shins and knees are doughy, like little pads of pillows, no need yet to be hard and sharp and rigid in order to protect stretches of significant tissue, muscle, ligaments, the same ones that lay beneath her skin, almost dormant, waiting for the rest of her to grow stronger.
Her lips, her primary means of communication, of survival, of comfort, so quick to smile and laugh, contentment her natural state of being. Her voice, vocal chords learning to vibrate and stretch and open, as she tries out a new sound, the shape of her mouth and the movement of her tongue a distinct experiment every time. Her bare bridge of gums, hiding a wee army of teeth, growing and forming and inching ever closer to the surface, waiting their turn to erupt into a new space, inviting new tastes and new textures.
Each piece, every detail, working in such perfect order, growing in harmony, as she grows into this world. Each cell, every particle, most of which are completely invisible to my smitten eye, pulsing in this brand new, ever-changing life, each tiny thread purposefully, wonderfully stitched by a true and deliberate Artist.
Each day, every moment, I get to hold a couple of God’s masterpieces.