Mornings are a bit of a hodgepodge at our house. We’re up at 6:20 with the 8 year old, quietly extricating him from his room in the hopes of not waking his younger brother tucked into the bunk below. There is the rush of dressing, breakfast, lunch packing, back pack stuffing, teeth brushing and lace tying to make it out the door at 6:54 for the bus that comes shortly thereafter. Then, it’s quiet time for the hubby and me. I either take my morning walk or get some “busy work” done over email or take a long shower. By 8, it’s time to nudge the little one through breakfast, dressing and teeth brushing in order to make 9 am carpool.
But in the middle of all that, is a traditional warm, sleepy snuggle with the just waking 4 year old. He’ll emerge from his room somewhere between 7 and 8, rubbing his eyes, cowlicks defying gravity, his body still deliciously soft and warm with sleep. I assume the position in the living room arm chair, lifting him into my lap where he nuzzles under my chin and we sit, quietly, snuggled and safe and time stops. No matter how crazy our morning or how late we may be running, there is always time for the morning snuggle. It is one of the highlights of my day.
The 8 year old is tougher to pin down. The hubby and I have been instructed to hug and kiss him goodbye inside instead of at the bus stop in the mornings. I take comfort in the fact that at least he still wants the hug and kiss at all. At night, he and I are reading the Harry Potter series. He’ll curl up tight into my side, head resting on my shoulder as he follows along. Occasionally, he’ll bring a blanket to tuck around us or pull my arm around his shoulders. When we close the book, he’ll snuggle in tight, encircling me in a tight embrace.
I love my kids fiercely, even when I don’t like them very much. I try my best to tell them often that I love them. And by often, I mean more than once a day. I crave their little bodies in my arms, their sweet smelling hair under my nose, their warmth as they surrender into my love. I joke with them when they’re snuggled in tight if they will let me snuggle them when they are 16 — although the thought is terrifying to me as I imagine them as all legs and arms and strength and too big for my lap. The little one always says “Yes! Always!” barely able to imagine what the weekend looks like not to mention a day 10 years hence while the older one is already testing the boundaries of his burgeoning independence in life and movement and emotions and answers “Maybe.”
So I am banking my snuggles now. I am tickling and hugging and smooching and building up the stores of those little bodies I created now while I can because I know that one night they won’t want a good night kiss anymore, just a hug, as I tuck them in. Then they will simply hug me quickly in the living room on their way to their beds with a simple “Goodnight, mom. I love you.” Then they’ll move on to just a shout from the hall to let us know they’re headed to bed which will come close behind me knocking on doors telling them not to stay up too late because I’m headed to bed. And finally, one night in the future, the house will be quiet and empty and I will see the line of Harry Potter books on the shelf collecting dust and I will call upon these morning and evening snuggles and remember the sweet innocence of their childhoods while they are out in the world on their own armed with the love armor I’m shoring them up with now. May it be enough to give them the courage they’ll need to open their hearts to the world.
Hopefully, in this far off future, they will come home knowing that they are safe and protected and loved no matter what the world challenges them with. Maybe, just maybe, they will let me snuggle them in their adult bodies, if only for a moment, through a hug or a dance or a head resting on a shoulder. And then my babies will be mine again. And time stops. If only for a moment.