Often all this takes is a little rub on her back, a hand soothed across her forehead, a tucking-in of penguin against her little body. She is asleep again before we leave the room.
Other times she is thirsty and we bring her a sippy cup. She takes some long pulls, then rolls over, throws her arm around penguin and is asleep before we leave the room.
But there are some nights where she wakes suddenly and her cries have a distinct desperation and urgency. These are the times when I will find her reaching up for me in the dark or even standing against the rails of her crib, wailing into the emptiness of her room.
And I will pick her up, cradle her against my body and slowly rock from side to side. Her head will fall against my shoulder and I will lean my cheek against it. Her arms will wrap loosely around mine, as mine are wrapped snugly around her. As we sway together, I feel her sobs subside and her breathing deepen, her breath soft and warm on my neck. Her head lies a little heavier; her arms may slide down to hang limply.
I’ll close my eyes and rest my head on hers. This is a moment I treasure – it’s worth the broken nights. Just to hold her in my arms so peacefully. During the day she is generous with hugs, but in toddler-fashion, these are mostly taken on the fly before she darts off to play. But in the still of the night, she sinks into my arms and I sink into my love for her.
If I had the strength of a mountain, I would stand there all night, for I am holding heaven in my arms.