I was on the tail-end of a long day. It was a bad day. My 4-year-old had been mouthy and disrespectful all day and the baby, almost 16 months, behaved like a Stage 5 Clinger for all of her waking hours. It was late, I’d given up on cleaning my epic disaster of a house and I was finally headed to bed, about to collapse into a heap of exhaustion. As I do every night, I checked in on my girls to kiss them goodnight (again) and confirmed they were still breathing. This is a habit I assume won’t be leaving anytime soon since my oldest is 4 and a half and I’ve done it everyday of her life.
Upon entering the baby’s room, I smelled the unmistakable smell of a dirty diaper. There were 2 possible explanations, one being a full diaper pail I forgot to empty before putting her to bed. Option 2 being she needed a diaper change. I had to check her because I wouldn’t have been able to sleep without knowing. Armed with the light from his iPhone, my husband and I creeped into her room and made the smallest, quietest moves possible to check her diaper. She was clean, of course, and she woke up the second we tried to sneak out.
She’s not normally a cuddly baby. Part of the reason she still gets a bottle at nap time and bed time is because I enjoy the quiet time with her. And also because I’m lazy. Her dad got her a bottle and tried to give it to her, to which she screeched and squawked until, rolling my eyes, I took over. Upon finishing her bottle, I put her back in her crib, like I always do. Only this time, she started to whimper and stood up, arms reaching for me. So I scooped her up, wrapped her in a blanket and took her back to the rocker.
She snuggled with me for what felt like an eternity.
She simply rested there, on my chest, head nestled on my shoulder under my chin while I rocked and we listened to the silence together in the darkness of her room. She wasn’t asleep, I could tell because her toes would occasionally play with the tops of my legs…she’s gotten to be so long. I could feel the rise and fall of her chest, as she matched me breath for breath. With each breath we both took, the days’ obstacles left me. The frustration left, the anger left, the despair left, the guilt left, each breath was cleansing in its own way, for each of us I suppose.
That time together was so sweet, so special for me and it recharged my soul. It healed my emotions that had been beaten and battered all day. After a day of feeling like I’d done nothing right and had failed at my job as their mother, it was so precious to be the only person she wanted…and all she wanted was to be held close by me.
After a while, I told her it was time to go night-night. She lifted her head off my shoulder and nodded yes and pointed to her crib. I placed her in her crib and she flipped to her belly, curled into a ball, stuck her butt in the air and crossed her ankles. I covered her up and left her room. She didn’t make another peep until the next morning.
As adults, I think we sometimes forget just how little our souls need to feel refreshed. We don’t need clothes, food, alcohol, or stuff. We just need still, quiet, uninterrupted time next to the ones we love the most.
Do your kids like to be cuddled? Do you enjoy being close to the ones you love or do you like your space?