I'm sleepily nursing baby H., who went astray from his usual easy schedule of waking only once during the night to fuss next to me in the co-sleeper until I scooped him up and wordlessly affixed him to me so as not to disturb him or me from our half sleep.
We're just settling into our rhythm when I hear thumping footsteps curving around the house and then up the stairs. The mister tries to quietly guide our daughter around the side of the bed that's empty, but she simply climbs over me to the bed's perfect center and throws herself bodily down before burrowing herself roughly into the curve of my back.
There's a sweet moment of warm, cuddly silence and then: "Mama, it's morning. I can see the light."
"No, bug. That's moonlight. It's still nighttime."
I'm pinned to the bed, barely awake but unable to drift off, weighed down on one side by a three-year-old whose warm exhalations are tickling my ear and on the other by my two-month-old who has finally let go of my breast.
P. shifts against me, singing to herself, and I gently shush her. The baby's eyelids flutter in the dimness, and his eyes roll back showing me the whites, which used to scare me when P. was newly born but doesn't bother me now. It means he's still asleep, though I already know that because of his stillness and the heaviness of his weight on my arm.
It also means I can almost definitely transfer him back to his own little bed without waking him. P.squirms as I pull my arm out from underneath her. "It really is morning, mama. The sun is coming out."
She's right, but just barely. To my eyes, it's only marginally less dark and it's still so warm in my bed. H. is warm, too, in his little fleece sleeping sack. He sighs as I lift him, fusses as I deposit him on the firm surface of the co-sleeper which must feel so much colder than the crook of my arm.
Downstairs, I think about breaking house rules - about putting on a movie to occupy P. on a day that's not a weekend and hiding from the morning light under the couch cushions. I pour myself a cup of coffee that's mostly decaf instead and wrap myself up in the chenille robe the mister left hanging on the bathroom door.
The sky has changed from dreary crystal gray to a mellow blue with pink streaks by the time her breakfast is warm and waiting in the kitchen. This could be any morning - a work day or a day off, a busy day or a not-so-busy one - and any kind of morning, depending on how I decide to greet the day.
I was struck the other night that someday in a future that's right around the corner, I'll have children who don't fit in the crook of my arm. Children who'd rather die than snuggle up to my back under cozy covers. Who sleep until noon so that I can sleep until noon, too, if I really want to.
I'm cranky when woken up with moonlight still streaming into my window, but not so cranky I don't realize I'll miss it. The weight of a sated baby putting my arm sleep. The enthusiasm of an almost-four-year-old so excited to greet the day. The reluctant cuddles. That hot, sweet morning breath in my ear.
Life will certainly be different without it.