I sit on the couch and snuggle her sweet self as she nurses. One of her chubby hands winds itself in my hair, always, always. She looks around when she's finished her pre-nap meal, eyes searching, more often than not, for the source of brotherly noise she can hear behind her.
I take that as my cue to stand up. She snuggles against me and pops that wrinkled thumb of hers into her mouth, the other hand maintaining its hold on my hair. We walk to the bedroom, slowly and purposefully, and I say the same words every time:
Daddy loves you.
God loves you.
Sleep well, my love.
I'll see you when you wake.
I lay her down, covering her with her grandma-knit blanket. Goodnight, I whisper, as I lean down for one last kiss.
Sometimes her eyes follow me as I leave the room; other times, her eyes are closed as soon as the blanket is pulled over her. I shut the door quietly behind me.
I return to those boisterous boys for our own quiet time. We read a couple of chapters from our current read-aloud - just one more chapter, please? - and sometimes more. Then I leave them to their own quiet activities while I have a short nap of my own. No one whispers words of peace to me as I close my eyes, but I feel peace nonetheless, my last thoughts always a grateful thank you as I allow rest to come.