First I hear the clompity, skip noise of Hannah's plastic dress-up shoes against the tile in the kitchen and her voice gladly trilling, "Daaaadyyyy." I hear water running in the kitchen sink and the scrape, clank of a skillet being placed on the stove. I hear John's heavy-footed eagerness as he expectantly questions what is for breakfast. These sounds have been going on for a while, my subconscious tells me. I know, though, in an instant, those noises aren't what call me to a state of wakefulness.
There is a quiet grunting and writhing and the tiny fingernails-on-sheets sound as the baby claws her way into morning. It is a sound that would awaken only a mother but one that immediately shakes all the cobwebs from my leaden mind. Cote is stirring. I slip out of bed, noticing a tingly fullness in my left breast, just shy of painful. I walk to the crib near the foot of our bed. Cote needs her space, unlike her older sister, who stills enjoys coming in sometime in the wee hours of the morning and tucking her body as closely as possible to her father or myself.
I peer over the rail and touch her arm. Something tells me to savor this and not to ruin it with my voice. Her body immediately settles, her eyes open wide as she scans the gauzy light filtering through the blinds. She makes eye contact and reflexively breaks, one cheek at a time, into a wide smile. Her arms move from the mattress in concentration. With underwater slowness, she reaches toward me. I pick her up and she leans her warm body into mine, molding herself to my embrace. She rubs her downy head against my face.
The sounds of chaos and breakfast continue on the other side of the bedroom wall. I begin to trust that, this morning, in this moment, those sounds aren't coming for me. I take the prize nestled under my chin and lay her on my bed. We both hear the click as my nursing bra unfastens. I lie down, maintaining eye contact in preparation to nourish my baby.
She grins even wider. Her smile travels down her whole body, causing her legs to curl upwards. This motion causes her to flip to her side. With no guidance, save my availability, she expectantly latches on. It occurs to me that I am drinking in this experience as much as she is drinking my milk.
I think of the Isrealites wandering the desert and about the manna God provided them. It was the only thing they ate. It satisfied their every need, in the early days, before they begged for meat. It was exactly enough, never too much or too little.
I sense Cote's enjoyment and gratitude. We communicate with our eyes and bodies. She doesn't yet speak my language and I don't remember hers. Eventually, in the busyness of life, she'll learn to speak because it is more expedient than waiting for these stolen moments. For right now we share a mutual wonder as we mimic the smiling creases in the corners of one another's eyes. I follow her gaze as she examines the blanket, her own hand, and the spinning shadows above the ceiling fan. Her dimpled hand gropes unhurriedly until it finds and clasps onto my finger.
The narrator in my head, whose voice often compels me to write, begins to compare and make observations. I need to both capture and express this exchange. I cherish what I come to realize is the kind of vacation we are all looking for. It energizes me and makes me eager to go reconnect with the other, more noisy, more hurried members of my family. It is restful and prepares me to go back to work.
My baby and I have traveled to a destination that reminds me of somewhere. Golden streets. Perfect gardens. A glassy sea. Complete acceptance. This connection reminds me of cool mornings with the One who has given me life. You see, this intimate experience was much too large to be fully consumed by a baby and her mother. I have to share it. I have to describe it and beckon others to it, who, like me, tend to forget to slow down and just "be".
This morning we are.
Is this why He is I Am?