Sasha still likes to sit on my lap sometimes. I'd be lying if I said I didn't like it a whole lot more than she does. She's the youngest and it's no mistake that I often call her "baby". In my head and my spirit she will always be the baby. Just a day or so ago Sasha was on my lap sitting with her back pressed against my chest and my arms wrapped around her. For the first time, her legs caught me by surprise. They hung down, one on each side of my own legs and nearly touched the ground. They are long, lean, and strong. When she tries to curl up on my lap her legs fold and bend to let me wrap my arms around the whole of her. I can hardly reach around them as the little "ball" she used to be able to contort herself into isn't as tiny as it once was. Her legs are growing and so is she.
When Hannah, Ellie and Sasha were little I prided myself in how our girls went to bed without any back-rubs, snuggles, or cuddling. A story, a prayer, a kiss and "I love you" and it was done. Lights out, door closed, sleep now. They were trained well and I patted myself on the back for my fortitude and discipline in teaching them how it should be done.
Lately Sasha has been asking for me to rub her back for a few minutes as she's falling asleep. Most nights I say I'll do it for 2 minutes while I sit on the side of her bed. But there are times when she can't sleep and I have the time, that I will crawl in beside her, under her flannel quilt and burrow my nose into the nape of her neck and spoon my body behind hers. I rub her back and her legs and breath in the smell of shampoo, little-girl sweat, laundry soap, and the mystery smell that each of your kids has that you can't put your finger on. Maybe that smell isn't as delicious as they get older, but when they're still as little as Sasha is, it is a lovely thing. I stay by her side and rub her back and legs in a circular pattern while keeping my nose pressed up against her neck. Her body is warm and tired from a long day of learning and living. Her breath gets slower and her body rises up and down and soon you can feel the heaviness of sleep overtake her.
It's in those minutes curled up in the bottom bunk that I've been marking as sacred. Those long legs grew faster than I was expecting. Her body takes a lot more of my arm length to stretch around. I look at Ellie and all 5 feet 8 inches of Hannah - growing, growing, growing and I wish I had said "yes" more often to back rubs and snuggles and breathing in their scents as sleep came slowly. I wish I had taken less pride in the closed door and the quiet child and more time to listen to their breath.
People always said time would move fast. Sometimes I willed it to move faster. Those long legs beg me to stop and give them a rub. They've got some growing left to do.