That oh so difficult work of cherishing


verb (used with object)
to hold or treat as dear; feel love for: to cherish one's native land.
to care for tenderly; nurture: to cherish a child.

As part of buttoning down the house each night (turning off lights, locking doors), my husband Glade peeks in on our sleeping daughter. Some nights he invites me: Let's go look at her. For the first few years of Em's life, I had zero desire to risk waking our sleeping child, even if it was to gaze adoringly at peaceful form nestled in cozy crib. Such was my anxiety about her sleep. I agonized over her sleep, which never seemed to be timely enough, long enough, deep enough. When she was asleep, I was finally free, and wasn't going to do anything to jeopardize my glorious lack of responsibility. 

But little by little, Glade's devotion to the practice wore off on me, and I began to tip toe into Em's room more frequently (quick to flee at the slightest signs of stirring). He was right, about how wonderful it is to simply watch your child in a state when they don't need anything from you. With the stress of feeding and cleaning and cajoling wiped away, I see Em anew. My girl of wild beauty and sudden hugs and funny phrases. Reverence washes over me. I give thanks for her. If I'm feeling really brave, I touch her soft cheek.

Through this ritual of awe, I cherish what I have while I have it.