It’s that last moment before bed, when you’ve finished your bottle and we’ve read your Quran and I’m standing up to put you down into your crib, that last moment when I’m holding you around your chubby little waist and I pull you in for a kiss and tell you “tisbah ‘ala kheir’, that I want to last forever. No matter how tired I am, no matter what kind of day it’s been, that kiss on your cheek is never enough, that moment always, always ends too quickly.
And you’re starting to squirm, even now, when I prolong it. When my lips don’t leave your cheek in sufficient time, when I go for a third, or a fourth, or a fifth. You know your routine: the room is dark, we’ve drank our milk, we’ve said our dua, don’t confuse me, Mama, I think now it’s time to sleep. But this is when I ache with my love for you. This is when I don’t know if I’ll be able to bear it to put you down, while you’re still so warm and so soft and so pudgy in my arms, while I’ve forgotten that you whined while we made dinner, or smacked me in the face, albeit playfully, while we sang and clapped.
And then when you wake up at 2 a.m., I think to myself, “Dear God, sleep, Child!” and yet, right at bed time, I wish I could freeze time and stay standing there, suspended above your crib, holding you, rocking you, kissing your delicious little face with your fat little cheeks and your dimpled chin and your extra rolls of adorable. I wish I could freeze it and stay in that moment, just you and me and our love, before you want to run away, before you’re focused on impressing someone else, before you talk back and try to escape your homework, before life.