Last night I woke up to the sound of Ella crying in her sleep. I went to check and saw she'd kicked her doonah off. So I covered her again and watched her snuggle into the doonah and relax.
It reminded me very strongly of those moments when she used to cry in her sleep as a baby. That baby stage when we'd had our routines down pat and crying after dark didn't make my body tense up in anticipation of more sleep deprivation any longer.
I remember those moments when she cried and I went over to the cot and just put my hand on her head or chest and shhhh-d and whispered to her and she'd immediately relax and fall back into a deep sleep. I remember them as very happy moments. Moments when there was no past or future, just the now and it felt like the whole universe had worked together to put me there and then, next to that cot with the sleeping baby for my touch and my voice to reassure her back to sleep. Those moments left no room for existential questions. I just was, there and then and wished for nothing more.
I think most parents would know what I'm talking about. And they will also understand the disclaimer I will now add for those who are not parents.
Those are rare moments in the life of a parent and a stark contrast to the majority of the time when you wonder what the bloody hell you are doing and why the universe has sent you this child who won't do as you want her to! Endless cycles of trial and error (lots of error) and doubting your abilities and despairing about whether you can keep coping with the thanklessness of it all.
But - corny as it may sound - those rare serene moments are ample repayment for the rest of the time.