Dawn. From the other side of my office door, I hear bare feet whisper-stumbling across hardwood. My door opens and my daughter shuffles in, a sleepy scowl on her face, to curl up in my lap as she’s done every day of her nearly 8 years. It’s getting harder for her to do that now; she comes up to my shoulder these days, and is nearly half my weight. But we manage, for old time’s sake, to snuggle together for a few moments. I stroke her hair as her eyes flutter shut, her face serene as when she was a newborn. Just for a moment, I’m cradling my baby — then she’s off to the kitchen in search of a cuppa and her tablet.
Soon after she leaves, I hear the scuffling of smaller feet on the boards outside my door. In bursts my son, making his usual early morning grumpy-owl face. He lunges at me and I lift him up; he flings his arms around my neck and hugs me tight, our hearts beating against each other, as he pats my back and I rub his. We hold each other like that for a moment, then he too lays down in my arms — not nursing, not anymore, but still enjoying the feeling of being cradled. I ask how he slept, and he tells me elaborate dreams that probably made more sense if you were in them with him. I kiss his head, and he kisses me all over my face. Then he’s off — to play, watch tablet, pester his sister, or chase the Roomba around and chastise it when it gets stuck under furniture.
Every morning of their lives, I’ve been here. If they’re hurt, scared, sick, lonely, hungry, bored, or just want a hug, I’m steps away. They sometimes get sick of me, and that’s okay. They know I’m here, and that’s the important thing. Being here in the morning when they wake up is one of my favorite perks of working from home. So important is our little routine that my son sometimes sleepwalks to my office in the middle of the night, looking for me. (We cosleep, so he’s slipping out of my arms to do this — which is how I know he’s sleepwalking.)
It’s just for a little while, though. Every day, they’re growing. One day all too soon they won’t come in to crawl on my lap when they wake up. That day is going to break my heart, but it will also mean I have done my job.
In the meantime, I welcome these little interruptions — even when they distract me from my deadlines. Deadlines will always be there, but kids are only small for such a short time.