Just reading the title of this post makes me want to cry. You see, behind this title there is a little boy calling out these exact words to me. Well, he’s not little anymore. He is 9. He is teetering on the cusp of wanting his Mommy and wanting his independence at the same time. He is in the darkness of his bedroom, alone and unsettled as he tries to drift off to sleep when he calls out:
“Mommy, will you snuggle me?”
My heart leaps with the sound of his sweet little voice as I realize what he is asking for. “He actually wants me,” I think to myself as I head into his big boy bedroom. When I open the door, I see his wide eyes and sweet smile. He moves over in the bed and I take my cue from him. I lay down next to him and he reaches across me with his arm and pulls me in close. I put my arm around him, squeeze him tight and say, “I love you.” I then lay with him until we both are about to drift off to sleep. As I sneak out of the bed, I give him one last kiss and whisper another “I love you.” He rolls over, pulls the covers in close to his chest and snuggles his stuffed animal. I look back at him one last time before leaving the room and see him watching me. I wave goodnight before finally exiting and he waves back.
This is our nightly ritual and has been for the last month or so.
It began out of necessity as we were having a tough time seeing eye to eye. He was struggling with the academic expectations and social anxiety of fourth grade and it was all coming out at home, in a big way. The highs were high and the lows were low. My perfectly “chill” kid was suddenly a landmine that I had to tiptoe around, so as not to set him off. One tough night, in particular, I went back into his room after putting him to bed. I told him that I loved him and asked if there was anything he wanted to tell me. It was then that he said, “Mommy, will you snuggle me?”
These words are monumental, coming from my boy. He has never been a snuggly or affectionate person. Even as a baby, the moment he could hold up his own head, he was pushing away from me. I would try my hardest to get hugs and kisses in and he wanted no part of it. He was too busy for that. As he grew, he would even shy away from grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles when they wanted hugs. This is just who he is. So when he asked for a snuggle, I saw it as my opportunity to connect with him and strengthen our bond.
Each night our snuggle is a little different. Some nights he talks, some nights I help him calm his thoughts if they are too overwhelming, and some nights we listen to the sounds of nature outside his window. A few nights I have been brought to tears thinking about how much I love him and how I wish we could go back in time to where all of his problems could be solved with a kiss. On those nights, I want to hold onto every last moment of his childhood innocence and keep him safe forever in my arms.
On those nights, as I wipe away my silent tears, I thank God for my baby and that he still wants to snuggle his Mama.