Without getting into a whole debate about parenting "styles," I'm thinking about one of my all time favorite things: Snuggle Time.
My eldest is 11; she no long snuggles me. She will tolerate my hand in hers for a while. She is far too cool for lip kisses. She was not a huge snuggler when she was a baby. In fact, every time we tried to swaddle her like they tell you babies love, she would wriggle until her arms came free. Then she'd hold them out to the sides in her infant airplane game. All. The. Time.
Miss Middle Child is a hugger, but not a snuggler. She loves hugs. And she does love to snuggle her Aunt Michelle. She describes her as comfy. She will cling in a hug for far longer than you think a child can do anything. The taller she gets the easier, and stranger, it is. She comes to my chin now so it's easy to do while standing in the kitchen. How did this child come to have the same size feet as her mama?
And my little man. Oh, my little man is the best snuggler. He is a heat seeking set of limbs and soft breath. Our daughters never slept in our bed. Ever. Little man comes to my bed at least three times a week in the middle of the night. Most of the time I'm far too tired to do anything but grunt assent and roll over to make room. I know my husband does not like this but I find myself incapable of sending my son back to his room.
I think it's because he's my last baby. And he's no baby. He'll be starting Kindergarten in the fall. Someone still needs his mama, even if he's sleeping the entire time. But when he crawls under our covers, bringing maybe a favorite toy or a blanket, he slides easily into a space and his body gravitates toward the other warm figures lying next to him.
It's like a drug, his slow deep breathing of sleep. He sleeps like he's got nothing on his mind at all (why wouldn't he?). There is no creasing between the eyes, no tense shoulders, no twisting and turning. He completely gives himself up to the rest. He teaches me how to breathe so I too can fall into a restorative slumber. His fingers curled in mine tell me to relax my muscles and let go of the thoughts of the day.
His waking, too, is magical. He wakes ready to take on another playground adventure; I wake to a stream of worries and cares: wishing I'd started the coffee the night before, will I get the kids out the door on time, did I finish the laundry, will she find her shoes, did I forget to pay that bill, and how am I going to make it to every item on the unholy list of things to do.
He sighs a huge sigh, as if inhaling his dreams to carry with him through the day. He rolls over. He smiles at me. He pops out of bed and starts being him.
It won't last much longer. Soon he'll be too big for snuggles and too big to squeeze into our little bed. I can deal with that, but I will try to soak up his lessons and his dreams while I am still welcome to them.