I hear his feet pitter-pattering down the stairs. It is some hour in the early morning. A time when all are asleep and the house is dark and quiet. Well, almost all. He is awake, and now consequently—so am I.
I hear him placing his cup of water on my nightstand. He scurries to the end of my bed. I open my eyes just enough to see him clumsily hoisting himself up over the edge. I can feel his little hands and knees moving slowly as he crawls toward the pillows, careful as to not wake us up. It is so dark, he cannot see the small slits revealing the whites of my eyes.
He asks if I will hand him his water cup. I am happy to oblige. Even though he just sat it down a few seconds ago. I guess he likes to get comfy before taking a sip of water. I don’t blame him. My hand fumbles in the dark until it makes contact with the smooth contour of his cup. I hand it over.
He takes a sip and hands it back. It is our nightly dance.
I turn toward him and he snuggles into me, placing his tiny arms and hands around my neck.
“Will you snuggle me?”
“Of course, Buddy.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
We both slowly drift back off into the land of peaceful slumber. Content to be under the down of the comforter. Together.
He is my baby. The youngest of four. And this has become our near-nightly ritual.
Years ago, when my firstborn was this age, I was quick to shoo her back to bed. At that time, I had four children ages six and under. My bed was a sacred place reserved for my husband, me, and whatever infant I may have been nursing at the time.
If a child wandered into our room in the wee hours of the morning for snuggles, she was quickly escorted back to her own bed in her own room.
This was our space.
Now, I cherish these moments of early morning snuggles. I look forward to waking and seeing my son nestled between my husband and me.
It makes sense why I couldn’t have the kids in my bed then. And why I take in every moment of it now. The feel of his little arms around my neck. The tuft of his tousled hair peering above the comforter. The sound of his slow breathing that comes with deep sleep.
At one time, sleep was a rare and precious commodity. Between infants, toddlers, nursing, sickness and all of the other things that keep parents awake in the night—I needed my sleep. My children needed to learn I needed my sleep. And my husband needed his sleep, too. There just wasn’t space for them in our bed.
Today, sleep is no longer a rare occurrence. In fact, with our two oldest quickly approaching their teenage years, we now find ourselves on weekends wondering if they will ever get out of bed.
It’s funny how time changes things.
And as I watch them grow, I realize the time of young children climbing into our bed for snuggles is quickly approaching an end.
Our oldest two children learned early not to disturb our sleep. Our third child’s trips to our room in the middle of the night are few and far between. I rarely hear the sound of her feet pitter-pattering down the stairs anymore. And I know before long, the sounds of my son’s footsteps will be no more as well.
And this is why my husband and I allow the near-nightly trips to our bedroom in the dark and quiet of the early morning hours.
Like all things with parenting, this will not last forever. This is a short season. And he is my baby. And as I try to pay attention to the words and wisdom of the moms who have gone before me, I realize I will never wake up and regret the amount of time I have spent cuddling my children. I will never wish I had held them less.
I am at a point in my parenting journey where I will take all of the snuggles I can get. I will hold on to them. I will store them in a special place in my heart. I will see them as the precious gifts they are.
Even if they show up while I am sound asleep in my bed at 3 a.m.
I will take them.
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