The Rocking Chair and Finding Joy
It’s the same routine every night.
We read a story, brush her teeth, then settle into the old wooden rocking chair.
I rock us back and forth. Back and forth.
For however long it takes, I sit in that rocking chair, holding her tucked under her favorite gray blanket, waiting for her to drift off to sleep.
I am not sure how many times I go back and forth in that chair, but on those tough nights where she fights sleep, it feels like millions. I rock so much that afterwards it’s like when you’ve been on a boat and get off, you can still feel the motion.
As I sit and rock my now 48 lb 4 1/2 year old to sleep each night, my mind often wanders to the question, “How did I get here?”
Not in the literal sense, as I physically carried the rocker back up from the basement when she was going through a sleep regression months ago and rocking was the only trick that worked.
It wasn’t even the most comfortable rocker when she was an infant, but with her weight, sprawling arms and legs, it’s barely functional now. It squeaks if I go too fast, and the small brown seat cushion won’t stay in place.
There’s a million flaws you notice when you sit in something uncomfortable while trying to make someone else comfortable.
When we bought it second hand, I thought, this will do, we won’t be using it that long anyways. Oh, if I only knew what I know now, I would have insisted on that ginormous light gray chair glider at the retail store that was super expensive. It would’ve been worth it.
I sometimes wonder if I should get a new one. But how can I justify getting a new infant rocker for a 4 year old?
Shouldn’t we be past this?
Shouldn’t she be sleeping in her own room?
Shouldn’t she be potty trained?
Talking in sentences?
Brushing her own teeth and hair?
When I brought up the chair, I told my husband it would only be for a couple days. Just long enough to get us through this rough patch. Then days turned into weeks and weeks into months.
I ponder a lot about autism in that chair. Reflecting on the questions I ask in my head. The ones you don’t say out loud.
What did I do wrong?
How much longer?
When will it not be so hard?
Why does she have to struggle so much?
Am I doing enough?
On nights I go down that rabbit hole, I have to remind myself to pause and find the beauty in the hard.
I brush her hair out of her face, kiss her head, and readjust my grip….because it’s about this time my arms are tingling.
I take a calming breath and focus on the love. Her smile, her laugh, the way she puckers out her lips to give me a kiss. It just melts my heart.
It doesn’t take away the hard, but it reminds me it is worth it.
She is worth it.
I love her so much, I’m willing to rock her forever if that’s what she needs.
Or maybe soon she won’t need me like this anymore.
Only time will tell.
But I still have the same hopes and dreams for her as I did when I rocked her as an infant. They may not look the same, but I still want them. I want her happy, healthy, and as independent as she is capable.
I will help her, push her, and rock her as long as it is what she needs from me.
After she has fallen asleep, I sneak in just one more kiss before I take her to bed. Because no matter how old, or big, or how long we share this chair together, she will always be my baby.
My precious angel. My sweet, sassy, loving girl who has so many gifts to share with the world. The possibilities and her potential are limitless.
And I will continue to try and find the joy in our time in that old chair.