A momma sloth carries her baby around for the first year of life. She hangs from tree branches and climbs from limb to limb gathering leaves with her sloth baby clinging to her fur all the while. They're never apart. Baby grabs on with her three-toed paws so Momma never has to let go.
I learned that last night as I found myself captivated by a CET network documentary about pygmy sloths while Gideon stretched out across my lap. (We are rediscovering the world of public broadcast networks ever since we got rid of cable.)
I had just tucked Finny and Charlie into bed for the third night in a row while Gideon screamed from his crib. David has been away on a work trip to England this week, so bed time has been totally up to me. In order to read the older two stories without interruption, I have to put Gideon down and take a deep breath while I listen to him cry, telling myself this is just the way it has to be this week--I am only one person and it's just a few minutes.
"Mommy, will you sing us that song you've been singing about the river?"
I've been singing them Garth Brooks lately, another thing I've rediscovered as of late, but my cortisol is rising as I listen to the crying.
"I can't, Finny. I'm sorry. I have to go get Gideon. It's just me right now and he's upset."
A two-year-old Finny would have protested as I shuffled off to care for baby Charlie, but six-year-old Finny has big boy Charlie to snuggle up with in the bottom bunk, so he lets me go. He understands. I feel like he is taking care of me. My little six-year-old Man of the House.
This time of night after Finny and Charlie are all tucked in, some days this feels like my first real moment to look at Gideon, to sit down and run my fingers through his hair, slide my finger across his soft palms, cajole a smile out of him while I admire him with a happy grin--"Hello, Handsome."
And last night as he drifted off to sleep in my lap, I found myself staring at the TV with envy of the momma sloth all snuggled up with her baby in the canopy of a tree. She never has to put him in the Boppy chair while she empties the dishwasher, never has to buckle him in the car seat while she drives the carpool, never has to listen to him cry from his crib as he wonders at ten weeks old if he's been abandoned--"Where did she go? Does she still exist?!"
And who knows, maybe Momma Sloth would look down at me and think, "Ah, man, that lucky Momma Human, she gets to put her kid down once in a while. What I wouldn't give--my back is killing me!"
But I can't help but think as I look at those little brown sloth eyes and those long furry sloth arms all bundled up so that you can hardly tell where the baby begins and the momma ends--how much I would love to just have Gideon clinging to my fur all day long, all wrapped up in a constant state of snuggle.