Many years ago, before we were married, before Darren was even living yet in the apartment we shared after we were married, he inherited a rocking chair. A big, gray, La-Z-Boy recliner, which his mother, who delivered it along with some of his grandfather's other belongings, cautioned us wasn't very comfortable. It was old to begin with, so it must be ancient by now. It wears a few stains and its formerly cushioned arm rests are nothing now but skeletal remains beneath a saggy coat of worn fabric, their plush stuffing having long ago migrated down into the dark depths of its interior. It's been abused: rode like a stallion by imaginative children to the point that it no longer reclines quite right; stored in a dusty garage when it didn't quite fit in with whichever furniture arrangement we were currently trying; spilled upon, and worse.
But I've loved that chair. It's where I've rocked all my babies. It's where I dreamed of rocking my babies even before I had my babies. It's where, when I was still working full time, I would nap with my babies in the warm snuggly way I miss so dearly now. When Caitlyn was still but a bump in my tum, Dylan would cozy himself around her just so, nestled in to me as I cuddled him close, and we'd sleep. Later, after she was born, we'd fit her in with us, too, cradled protectively in the crook of one of my arms while Dylan rested comfortably in the other. Those are days I will never forget.
That chair is where, on Christmas day in 2005, I settled in with a newborn Meghan for an afternoon of snuggling and nursing while Darren took our older two children out to visit relatives. It's where I've read many, many stories, sang countless songs, stroked silky fine hair of finally sleeping children, lingering for just a bit before moving them to bed; it's where I've loved them best and where, when I think of their childhood once they're grown, I will remember them with longing, I'm sure. It's where we (sometimes) do school. It's where we (often) say prayers. It's where we (always) make up, when we've been cross. It's where we live the best of this life.
Before leaving for work a few nights ago, I asked the children for goodbye kisses. Without a moment of hesitation, Dylan climbed right up into my lap on that chair, elbows and knees at sharp angles, arms and legs longer now than I realized. But still, he snuggled. I was grateful for the honor. And just this afternoon, while waiting for Darren to return home from work, I dozed for a short bit with Kristen in that big beloved chair, mindful in that dreamy state of the happy sound of my other children playing nearby.
I love that chair. It's covered now in a cheery throw my mom left us on her most recent visit. "Home Sweet Home" it says. So true.