It’s late. The house is dark and quiet. Everyone is sound asleep.
My husband is sleeping next to me. My daughters are peacefully asleep in the next room, breathing slowly, their little bodies relaxed. I know, because I crept out of my bed to check on them, to revel in how beautiful they are in their sleep. My precious daughters whom I love more than I love myself. I smile happily because I know exactly where they are. They are here, close to me. They are safe.
I go back to bed. I close my eyes and try to relax into sleep, but I can’t. I am wide awake. I turn to look at my husband, who’s in deep slumber by now. I examine his face and listen to his deep breaths. I lightly stroke his forehead, careful not to wake him up. We’ve been together since I was 18. Almost 20 years! I can’t imagine life without him. He’s a kind, loving, hard-working man and a wonderful dad. He’s everything I could ever wish for in a partner. He’s the love of my life. Having worked as a divorce attorney, I am grateful to be able to say that, because no one knows better than I do that for countless people, countless marriages, this is not the case.
I roll on my back and stare at the ceiling. I don’t really pray anymore, but I say a little silent “thank you.” I am happy. Grateful. We are healthy. We are together. Everything is just perfect.
As usual, my happiness doesn’t last very long. My body tenses as I realize how scared I am. The quiet of the night sharpens my senses and eliminates distractions. I see things very clearly. I am fully aware that as much as I love my life right now, it won’t – it can’t – stay like this forever. Life forces us to move on, to change. Children must grow older, become teenagers and eventually leave, embarking on their own adventures, their own life. We, their parents, must grow old.
In a few short years, my kids will not be kids anymore. They will not be in their room, peacefully asleep, every night by 9pm. And although I have several more years before they start slipping away from me, I already know: it will hurt.
I realize that part of my job as a parent is to slowly let go – to work myself out of the picture and allow my kids to spread their wings and fly on their own. But how do I stop worrying? My love for them is so powerful, all-consuming. When they are ready to gradually detach themselves from me, how do I detach myself from them?
I pull the covers over my head and sigh. If I could only stop time and freeze things as they are right now. If we could all stay here, together, under the same roof, happy and healthy and so very blessed.
Lying in bed, sleepless, I am immensely grateful for the present and terribly afraid of the future. Right now, I would give anything for the ability to freeze the picture of my life and stay exactly where I am.
In the photo: my daughter.