You have been in and out of bed about 13 times since I tucked you in. You ask for water, say you have "the snuffies," you need me and only I will do. I know this is all a ploy, dear Girl Who Cried Wolf, but I give in, time and again. I will take this nightly dance with you, because it's all I've got after the long work day. I don't want to need you needing me, but you needing me is so fleeting that I cling to it like a raft.
I lay next to you while your brother tosses and turns in the bunk above, noisily slurping that thumb that he won't give up in the night. I close my eyes, thinking it will speed up the process. It's 9:05 and your father's voice inside my head reminds me that it's my job to make sure you get enough sleep, not to steal selfish glances of your pretend-sleeping face.
Your eyes are forced closed, but you wrap your hand around my finger tightly, to secure me in my spot. Ray Lamontagne plays on the iPod and I wonder what it says about me and your dad that all my favourite love songs now belong to you.
I wedge an eye open, surreptitiously watching the crests of your face give hints to the beauty of your adult face. Your perfect bow mouth, your sweet non-Armenian nose, your eyelashes that end in tips of gold. I want to save it. Every mom wants to save it. So I save it the only way I know how... by being present for it.