Ever since our two sons began sharing a room, their bedtime routine has been the same. Baths, PJs, teeth, stories, cuddles. And every night as I leave their room, Eli always says, “Remember to come up, cuddle, and bring water!”
I head down the stairs with a quick, “Okay!” knowing full well that the likelihood of following through on that promise is next to nothing. The days are long, and by bedtime I’m ready for some downtime. Even then, I still need to finish cleaning the kitchen, pick up stray toys in the living room, and pack a lunch for my toddler before I can even consider sitting down.
Occasionally, after several minutes of quiet, the hollering will begin. Although it’s low at first, it quickly gains volume and frequency. “Mummy. Muuummmyyyy. MUUUUMMMMMMYYYY!!!”
So I stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell back in annoyance, “What??”
“Can you bring up water?”
“I’ll be up in a few minutes.”
I finish my current task, fill a couple of water bottles, and begrudgingly climb the stairs, annoyed that my ‘me time‘ has been cut into. Quickly handing out the waters, I give one last round of kisses, and skedaddle on out of there as fast as possible, telling myself that my children need sleep. I’m just looking out for their best interests.
For over two years, some form of this scenario has played out nearly every night, which makes it all the more surprising that I didn’t notice when it recently changed.
Lauren and her family. Via Facebook.
I was cuddling with Samuel and listening with one ear as he told me his latest superhero tale while with the other I caught snippets of the conversation between Eli and my husband. ‘Mommy’ and ‘grump’ were the two words that stood out. I jokingly reached across the beds to tickle or pinch whatever flesh my hand could reach while crying, “Hey, who are you calling a grump??”
Not long after, I plopped myself in the living room chair beside my husband. As I settled in, he said, “Did you hear what Eli said? ‘Mummy was always grumpy when I’d call her to come back up to cuddle, so I stopped asking.'”
Immediately, I felt the old familiar weight of guilt drape itself over my shoulders like an unwelcome blanket on a hot day. I stood, dashed up the stairs, and rounded the corner into the boys’ bedroom. Eli had just dozed off. As I lay down on the bed, he stirred and I took the opportunity to whisper in his ear, “I love to cuddle you.”
He mumbled something back and drifted off again, arm around my neck, face pressed in close to mine, just the way he likes it. All was forgiven; the situation rectified.