The other night as I was saying good night to my sons, my twelve-year-old pulled me onto the lower bunk, scooched over and said, “Lie down and snuggle with me, Mom.” I put my head down on the pillow, keeping my feet on the floor and massaged his back.
“Not like that. Come on. Feet all the way on the bed, like you’re not trying to get away,” he said with a smile. “You always run off to finish the dishes or do laundry.”
“That would be your laundry, mister,” I reminded him.
“Just stay here,” he repeated.
So I lay on the bed, snuggled up against my son while he talked. I tried to move once to scratch my nose and he grabbed me tighter.
Finally in the quiet of the almost darkened room I said, “Promise me something.”
“OK,” he said happily.
“Promise me when you’re sixteen and can’t stand me anymore, you’ll remember this.”
“What do you mean, when I can’t stand you anymore?” He sounded so earnest.
“Oh, it’ll happen,” I said, in a teasing voice. “You can’t imagine it right now but in a few years you’re going to think I know absolutely nothing.”
“What are you talking about, Mom?” My ten-year-old piped up as he threw his head over the side of the top bunk, peering down on us. I looked at his upside-down face and stroked his cheek. “You’re the best mom in the world. I would never think you didn’t know anything!”
“Can I write that down?” I asked.
“Sure,” he shrugged.
“Don’t worry, Mom,” my oldest said, “I’ll still be able to stand ya.”
“Can I write that down, too?” He hugged me a little tighter.
Our job as parents is to usher our children into adulthood. But here’s the rub: In order to do that we have to let go of the precious little moments like these. I know there will come a day when there are no more wet towels to pick up off the floor, no more science projects growing on the kitchen counter, no more running through the house, doors slamming, or lacrosse balls being bounced off the walls. Somehow it makes this particular snuggle all the sweeter. There’s always the possibility for closeness with my grown children, and a good relationship is something I both hope for and expect as they mature. But come on… how many of you still snuggle with your mom? (Made you cringe, didn’t I?) The reality that they are growing up before my very eyes hit me last night. Hard.
“Hey, Mom,” my oldest said as I finally eased myself off the bunk, making a mental note that it was time to look for a more grown-up bed.
“I love you,” he said.
I paused in the doorway looking at my two sons snuggled under their blankets and smiling at their mom. From the top bunk, a voice said, “And you can write that down.”
Charla Belinski is the author of the column “Are We There Yet?” in the Glenwood (Colorado) Post Independent where she shares her common-sense style and humorous world view on parenting each week. Charla has recently completed her first novel, It Came a Fine Rain. She lives with her husband, Tim, and three children near Aspen, Colorado. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.