And I’m bound to keep on ridin’.
And I’ve got one more silver dollar,
But I’m not gonna let ’em catch me, no,
Not gonna let ’em catch the Midnight Rider.”
And he looks up at me, or through me and around me, as is common with newborn vision. Milk drunk, safe, and secure. My little snug as a bug caterpillar in the falling light. I love to make him feel loved, as I’m sure he loves to be loved, but really he knows nothing else. Just warm arms, being passed around, fed from me, swaddled from Cassidy, and soft against Scarlet’s sweater.
Close to the middle of the night, he’s my Midnight Rider. We’ve settled into some sort of routine, which we all know doesn’t mean much with an 8-weeker. It might mean that we’ve had two days in a row of the same thing. In this case, around 8pm or so, I get so tired I either ask for a nap or just take one. Sleep swallows me whole these days, without a warning sign. One minute I’m here and the next minute I’m there, in deep enough to dream. Of entire cities and worlds and galaxies. Meanwhile, the baby is swaddled in the bassinet downstairs and he falls in deeply too. Deep enough, I hope, to dream of entire cities and worlds and galaxies where anything and everything is possible. Then he wakes up in the midnight hour to eat. THIS is my Midnight Rider.
Then I bring him upstairs to the bedroom bassinet and deposit him as gently as I can in the midnight hour. I sink down near him for three hours or so, sometimes more and sometimes less, and then my Witching Hour Rider wakes up hungry again. He never gets frantic, because I answer his call in a somewhat timely fashion, although I have been known to sink further under the covers to sink further into sleep and dreams, and he will root around and whimper and whine for a few minutes. Then I pick him up in deft fashion and talk to him. “Shh..” I say. “It’s ok.” “I’m here.” There’s no way, in the Witching Hour(s), to wrap my head around not being there. It’s too horrific a thought to imagine him waking up to someone and something else. So I feed him, re-deposit him a bit clumsily, and sink once again into the marshmallow clouds of fuzzy sleep.
The 7am Rider smiles up at me in the rising sun. He still can’t quite make out my face but the shapes and sounds are enough for him. His smile is goofy with his tongue a little out. I kiss his forehead and with his newborn vision, his eyes cross trying to figure out where and what I am.
I take this opportunity to talk to him, about how he’s a happy boy and a loved boy and a whimpering and whining boy, but a loved boy. I take this opportunity to tell him that there is so much wonder in him and around him and I can’t wait to do it all with him. All of it. It’s a swirling ball of life and love and pain and adventure, and we’re signed up for it. We are registered and enrolled. Sign me up to take this kid on shooting stars adventures, all the while, laughing and crying and loving, while he lives in the bliss/chaos of our family’s love. Both fierce and gentle.
Another day spins around us; and we – with it. How dare they say time moves quickly! 8 weeks? More like 8 eons. How dare they say that time drags on! I can feel it swirling and spinning, measured in another outgrown pair of shoes, a pregnancy growing and then a body healing, a pandemic rising and a vaccine already made. We find moments that stand still; quiet in the chaos. I tell him about that, like how sometimes I’m too excited to sleep, because I’m already excited for a simple breakfast the next day. Or a new coffee flavor. Time expands and contracts; I find myself going through another day, and facing another night. There, I meet new dreams.