Every night at bed-time we'll read part of a chapter book or his dad or I will make up a story with characters of his choosing and then one of us will cuddle him for a bit and then once he's asleep or close enough to asleep we'll head downstairs to finish our evening. Except when it's my turn to cuddle, and usually it's mine, very often I just cuddle in and fall asleep. Seven-thirty, doesn't matter, I'm out for the night.
Loretta has it different than Otto did. Her life is filled with jostling for attention and being delighted and probably very much overwhelmed by a sibling who loves to jump, run, yell, whine, laugh, take toys from her, shove toys into her hands, sing, dance, even calypso. She's in the thick of a lot of fun and drama and she follows him with her eyes, or crawls after him like a flying monkey, or nowadays walks on unsteady legs to keep up with him as he powers through life, showing her how to be a kid, how to be alive with energy.
I love my babies so much.
Nap-time and bed-time mean something quite different to each of them. Because of their different ages and because of their dynamic. Loretta craves the peaceful solace of her crib. She wakes up for cuddles and nursing but once that's satisfied she squirms, tosses, turns until we put her back in her crib. It's her quiet, calm place. All her own.
Otto, who is very much dancing with independence, who rolls his eyes and whines and demands and argues his way through the day. Well, bedtime is when he puts his guard down, quits testing boundaries, and just really relaxes into a silly, sleepy place. I tease him, "You sneaky weasel, you better not trick me into falling asleep next to you tonight."
He laughs, gives his dad a conspicuous wink, then says, "I won't trick you tonight, Mommy, even though I winked!"
I lay down next to him, under the covers because I know I won't mind if I do doze off for an hour or nine, in full makeup, teeth unbrushed, nothing as important as this cuddle time. We talk about our days, what we liked, what we didn't. Otto jokes that he never goes to sleep at all; that he just waits for me to go to sleep and then gloats all night because he is so good at tricking me.
I hold him like a teddy bear. Sometimes I hold his warm foot.
Last night I thought to myself, "When will this end?" When do moms stop cuddling their sons? Does it have to end? When he's fourteen and gangly and awkward can I still have this? When he's eighteen? When he's forty. Why does time have to change this bond between us? Why can't I just hold him forever? I hate that time and life are going to ruin that most precious thing. I don't want to hold him in hugs that last seconds or dances that only happen at weddings. I want to hold him like a teddy bear forever, his warm foot in my hand, the rest of the world falling away.