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A good friend was out of town and asked me to drop by her house and unlock her back door for the lawn care company coming that day. So, as requested, I did just that. On my way to work, I stopped by and unlocked the back door which opens into her laundry room. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. To anyone else all that was in there was a washer and a dryer, a trashcan, a table and a small rocking chair. But it was the rocking chair that threw me. It was the rocking chair that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was the rocking chair that almost made me late for work.
Three years ago, with an impending empty nest and a desire to simplify my life, I moved from the home in which I had raised my family to a smaller, more efficient, townhome. Even in their deaths, my sweet parents taught me valuable life lessons, not the least of which was that you really do not take anything with you. Armed with the conviction of that truth, I purged myself of anything unnecessary and I worked hard only to move with what I needed and a few of the memories of four childhoods. Unwilling to relinquish the nursery crib and rocker, I asked this friend if she would store them for me.
It was that rocker that met me in her laundry room. A small little rocker that held big memories. A simple piece of furniture that carried with it some of the happiest moments of my life. Standing in her laundry room on that winter morning, the cold air at my back and the warmth of the room flooding my face, my heart was also flooded with memories. I just stood there, stuck in the moment and in the past.
In those brief moments I was back to a night when my middle son was an infant. I had heard him cry to be fed and my heart sank. Surely he wasn’t ready to eat again. I just fed him. Or at least that’s how it felt. Sleep, precious sleep. When you are parents with a new baby, you feel at times as if you would sell your soul for a good night’s sleep. He cried and I wanted to cry. Reluctantly I got out of bed and made my way to his room.
I could see the room vividly in my memory. The nursery was quite small, with one window directly across the door to the room. Even with the blinds closed, a shaft of light from the street light in the alley behind our house was streaming onto one of the walls, enough so that I could get to him without turning on a light or fully opening my eyes. Maybe I could get through this without totaling waking up. My son was a summer baby and the air conditioners were humming their background din, hopefully providing enough noise to keep all others in the house asleep as well.
I got to his crib and picked him up. And my heart caved. Even in my half conscious haze, the mom in me took over the moment. I had several miscarriages between this child and his older brother and sister. I did not love him more than his siblings, but I appreciated him in a way I did not appreciate the previous two. I didn’t take pregnancy and birth for granted, as if having a baby was just a decision I got to make. He was a gift, a miracle, and even in the middle of the night in a house humming with sleep, I was aware of just how fortunate I was to hold him in my arms.
And so I fed him. And I changed him. And in twenty minutes or so, he was asleep. And I should have put him back in his bed and crawled back into my own. But I held him. And I rocked him. I felt his limp little body asleep in my arms. I smelled his sweet head under my chin. And I just kept holding and rocking, holding and rocking, holding and rocking. Thirty minutes prior, I had to drag myself out of my bed, and now, in that dark, quiet room, with its shadow of light on the walls, the soft early summer air on our skin and the hum of the air conditioner in the background, I couldn’t drag myself back to bed. I was a different mom with this baby. This was my third child, and unlike the first two, I knew just how fast this was going to fly. I knew that in a heartbeat, he would be begging to get down, too big to be held. I knew that this peaceful and seemingly insignificant moment was a treasure.
It was that memory that held me captive in the laundry room. There are many significant events in the life of a child. First birthdays quickly turn into 16th birthdays. Riding a bike all too soon becomes driving a car. Leaving them at kindergarten is only a heartbeat away from dropping them off at college. Holidays, graduations, weddings – all significant, all important, all deserving of celebration and most captured by the eye of a camera. But I would venture a guess that it is the unimportant moments that carry the greatest significance. Trapped in the routine of daily living are small moments of sweetest joy. And if you have the choice of going back to bed or holding on to that moment just a little bit longer, my advice is to hold on. Hold on for as long as you can. Because these are the riches of the heart. These are the secret delights of life and parenthood that pass quickly by. These are the memories that happen outside a camera’s reach, absent of applause or celebration. Random, insignificant moments of priceless worth and greatest delight.