This evening my wife decided to take a walk at a most inopportune time. The timing was less than ideal, as Abigail decided to start crying almost the instant the door closed, and I was all alone for however long a walk Hannah would take.
I finished the line of Greek homework I was on, hoping it was just a moment of restlessness on her part, but the English translation was made and my child was still expressing her discontent the only way she knows how. I laid the laptop on the floor, took a deep breath, and walked into the room from whence the commotion was originating.
There in the dark lay a poor mess. Although she's never seen any shows on Animal Planet, she was imitating with great success the death roll of a saltwater crocodile while still in her crib, the wooden bars preventing her from rolling out of the crib. I picked up the puddle of mush as leaving her in the crib would do nothing to aid her in returning to her restful state, much less in returning me to mine.
Hannah is quite skilled in turning a puddle of mush back into a sleeping infant, whereas my efforts at soothing the sobbing semiconscious mass had little effect, no so much as upgrading the puddle into a halfway gelatinous mix of tears and child. For a moment I was transported back to the first few weeks after Abigail came home from the hospital and turned me into a chronic consumer of caffeine. During those nights I was overcome with both despair and annoyance because the bubbling mass of tears was interrupting my already limited window allotted to sleep.
But tonight was different. I've mellowed out some since those first few weeks, and I hear that's a good sign that the sleep deprivation hasn't left any long-term damages to my body or psyche. Looking down into the drowsy eyes and gaping mouth, I saw a precious gift of time. The changes that have occurred in Abigail since last September are so profound that I can't help but think of how little time we have before our children leave their current stage of life forever. She won't always be this little. She won't always be this dependent on me. Wisdom tells me to take it all in one moment at a time and cherish it while it lasts.
An inopportune walk. A timely reminder.