I love to watch the baby when she's sleeping.
Ever since she started walking, Cupcake has been go-go-go! all the time, running in high gear, over and under, around and through, in the full-tilt boogie of toddlerhood. She is into everything, trying everything, observing and mimicking and doing everything, and she's still so naïve and unafraid that there is no stopping her, and definitely no keeping up. We're exhausted, with all the good and bad that comes with that.
She is growing so fast, too, and that's the part that really wears us down. Every day she is taller, stronger, smarter, faster, more confident, more independent, more self-reliant, more grown-up. She discovers the environment, tests her limits, pushes our buttons, conquers the universe. We can hear the cogs moving in her brain at the same time we can hear her feet clomping across the hardwood floor in those orthopaedic-looking little Stride Rites.
But twice a day, at naptime and bedtime, she is not so much "Cupcake" as she is "Munchkin," this wee little girl who needs help getting into her jammies and into her bed. She kisses us goodnight and dives for her monkey and snuggles under her afghan and for a minute, she is our baby again, just for a little while. So small. Her little breaths are tiny, her sighs sometimes virtually inaudible, but always sublime.
Sometimes she catches me watching her -- I will stand just inside the doorway from our bedroom into hers, or I will sit on the rug in front of her crib, just staring at her, listening to the sounds of her breathing, watching her long eyelashes fluttering when she moves just so, smiling as she hugs my old Care Bear against herself. Even though I try not to make a sound, she can sense me, and she will open her eyes and look up at me just so, wink with her mouth with just the littlest bit of grin, and then she will close her eyes again, giving me that little indulgence.
And I know then, when my heart stops beating and my breath catches in my chest and we are sharing a private, powerful moment together, my daughter and I, that I am hers as much as she is mine, and until the next tantrum, anyway, all is right with the world.