"It's time for bed!" I yell down to Quinlan as she enjoys the later bedtime spoils of being the oldest kid.
"Will you come tuck me in?" she asks.
Same as every night. Even when my husband is home.
I drag myself away from the computer, engulfed in glorious uninterrupted work that happens between the time I put the other three to bed and she's downstairs with her Nick Jr. pals.
"Will you snuggle with me tonight, Mom?"
I think about the dishes piled high in the sink. The four loads of post vacation laundry strewn about on my bedroom floor.
A to-do list that fills an entire page with nothing yet crossed off.
The clock ticks loudly in my ear. Three hours to get things done while the kids sleep before I collapse in my own bed, midnight visitors almost a guarantee.
"Please!' she begs.
It awakens something within me.
A door slammed. The lock turned.
"GO AWAY!" she screams.
The back of her head bobbing up and down as she runs off to meet her friends, never looking back to see if I'm still there.
An empty bed where she used to sleep, asking me to snuggle.
"Of course," I tell her, as I put my head on her pillow, her head nestled under my chin as her hair tickles my nose.
I close my eyes and take it in.