This afternoon I was searching online for any companies in my field that might have openings in this region. Any companies that I haven’t already applied to and possibly interviewed with. And then Nate woke from his nap, a thing he almost never does before a good three hours have passed.

So I went to check on him, and tried to comfort him. At first I held him and stood by his crib, swaying from foot to foot; after a diaper change I wound up lying next to him in my parents’ king-sized bed, cuddling him until he fell back into a deep sleep.

My son is a large boy. Already he’s too large for me to effectively soothe him while standing and holding him; soon, he’ll be too big for me to scoop him up and carry him very far, particularly if he doesn’t want to go. Holding him in my lap for storytime seems to require a miniscule shift in position every week. And he’s far too tall to curl his body against mine when we lie side by side without some serious folding.

Having a young child forces you to slow down the pace of your life, to take things at their speed. The whole rhythm of your day changes, not just during the notorious newborn period, but for a long time after that. Those days — defined by naptimes, bathtimes, storytimes, and bedtimes — never seem to change from the day before, until you look up and realize your child is no longer a baby, is in fact rapidly moving out of toddlerhood. That each day brings incremental changes. That already he needs less focused attention, less cuddling, than he did a quarter-year ago.

So yes, the time I spent tending to him during his naptime today — normally the one block of time I can count on not being interrupted — was disruptive to my day. But I realize that as every day passes, the time he’ll need me so close grows a day shorter. Each time he needs me to lie down with him and soothe him back to sleep is one less time I’ll get to do that. So I was pleased to get those extra few dedicated minutes. To feel his little body relaxing against me as he drifted off to sleep. To lie next to him for a time, even after he was asleep, just holding him and listening to him breathe.