Her dad is reading her bedtime stories in the room next to me. I am reading my own story in our room. The sound of their quiet discussion of the book is soothing me into a comfortable, guilt free rest.
She is stirring and fighting the sleep. I can hear the undercurrent of her father's patience being tested and she starts to cry sadly with her father cooing tiredly beside her. The happy noises have jumped tracks and the evening moves into an edgy territory - where patience can fly out the door and the beautiful evening sounds break.
I get up to poke my head in after listening for the code we have asking me not to disturb their dance from her father. I get no sign to hold off and enter the room. Fenner is sitting cross legged crying for me to come and snuggle her.
After a weekend away with my friends I did not need to be invited twice. I curl up next to her and she tangles her limbs in mine, her chubby kid fingers tangled in my hair. She spoons my belly and sighs.
I run my hands through her sweaty curls and we snuggle tightly. She falls asleep in my arms, wound around my belly and my body like the part of me that she is. I lie there for an hour not wanting to break apart from this moment, knowing that there are going to be fewer and fewer of them as she grows up and away.
It is a strange sensation to be learning how to be that safe harbour of motherhood that will last for the rest of her life.
Knowing that even now, as a successful professional woman, artist, wife and mother, when I am sick and sad and troubled, I long for my mother's touch brushing my hair away from my forehead and gently rocking me to sleep in her safe embrace.