There are these kids who I babysit. I've known them since they were 13 weeks old and started in the infant room at my job. I love them. I love how accustomed we are to each other. The kind of comfortable intimacy that only comes from spending so much time together.
How when I hold him, even though his body is so much longer now, he drapes so familiarly across me. His face buries in my neck and his small hand sneaks across my collar bone and into my shirt to grasp my bra strap as it did so many times when I held him on my chest and sang him to sleep. He drifts off with the same soft grunts, lifting his head only once to look at me and smile through his pacifier with sleepy eyes.
Or her. How after her chirping requests for more stories end, her head finds its place snuggled underneath my chin and her right thumb still goes immediately into her mouth. She still twists and turns and talks and sings before she settles in to rest, but now instead of rubbing the back of her tiny bald head, I brush her bangs away from her eyes and tuck her hair behind her ear so I can kiss her temple.
I think about how I won't be theirs one day. It's something that is well on its way to happening. Has already happened. But they will always be mine.
Even if they don't know it.