I used to rock Max to sleep every night.
I would sing to him while he cuddled in my arms and twisted his fingers through my hair. The soft glow of the night light would cast shadows across his sweet face as he drifted off to sleep while I sang his favorite songs.
As he got older, he wouldn't fall asleep, but would sing the familiar songs with me, then when he got tired enough, he would tell me that he was ready to go to bed.
A while ago, we decided that he was too big for his crib. We took the crib apart and put it away, replacing it with a toddler bed.
Max was thrilled with his "big boy" bed. It was right at that time that he decided that he didn't need to be rocked at night anymore.
"We not do rock a bye now. I'm also bigger."
I really missed this time with Max, and would frequently ask him if he wanted to sit in the rocking chair with me before he got in his bed.
"No, we not do rock a bye. I just go to bed."
During this time, I was growing increasingly tired of Max's sippy cups. We had an abundance of cups, but only a few lids left and he was quite picky about which ones he would use. I told him that when he turned four, he couldn't use the sippy cups anymore.
During the weeks before his fourth birthday, I reminded him frequently that after his birthday, there would be no more sippy cups, we would be getting rid of all of them. He wasn't too happy about this, and told me that I should just go buy some more.
About a week before his birthday, I got an idea.
"Hey Max, I'll tell you what. After you turn four, you can keep your sippy cup if you let me rock you in the rocking chair before you go to sleep at night."
I was partially teasing, so I was quite surprised when he agreed to this bargain.
Over the next several days, I would remind him of our deal, and he would agree every time.
The morning of his birthday, I filled up his sippy cup with milk and handed it to him with his breakfast. He handed it back to me and said,
"I not using those anymore. I'm four now ." And that night he still wouldn't sit with me in the rocking chair.
Last Friday night we had been to a wedding reception, and Max fell asleep on the way home.
I carefully lifted him out of the car, carried him to his room and put his pajamas on him. He woke up just a little, but went right back to sleep.
So I carried him over to the rocking chair, sat down and rocked. Even though he was asleep, he instinctively reached up and rubbed my hair between his fingers.
The next morning I told him what I did.
"Hey Max, last night I rocked you in the rocking chair."
He giggled and looked at me like I was crazy.
"Hey, I totally did! I cuddled with you and you played with my hair"
He laughed and walked away. I don't think he believed me.
Saturday night after he said goodnight to the family, I asked him if I could rock him again. "I won't even sing" I told him "I'll just rock you a little bit."
Much to my surprise, Max replied "No, you should sing."
I sat in the rocking chair and he cuddled in my lap. He played with my hair and sang his favorite songs with me, then gave me a big hug and kiss and went to bed.
I don't think he'll ever know how much it meant to me to be able to rock my baby.
And yes, I know he's four years old and no longer a baby, but as I've told him many times, he'll always be MY baby.