The Real Reason I Cuddle My Kid

By Kimberly Zapata

Every night my daughter asks me to lay with her in bed. I don’t know when she starting making this request, but I do know that it only took one night for it to stick. Before long our evening snuggle sess was just another part of her bedtime routine.

But last night I was sweaty. (I had gone on a post-dinner run.) I needed to eat and shower, and I wanted to relax. This was the only night my husband and I had planned to spend together all week. So I said no.

I slipped out of her room and into the shower.

But when I came out of the bath, my daughter was standing there.

“Mommy, can you dry off and come snuggle with me? Please.” She looked at me with those puppy dog eyes. “Just a little snuggles. A little bit.”

I paused and then nodded.

“OK, honey. Go lay down. I’ll be there in a minute.”

I dried off and tossed on an oversized t-shirt. I headed into her room with a towel still on my head.

After a few minutes, I gave her a kiss and we said our goodnights. I slipped out of her room once more, but before I got to the kitchen she was calling for me. She was crying and screaming for me to return.

At first I let her go. “She’ll be fine,” I thought. “By time I warm my food, she’ll be asleep.” But she didn’t stop crying. She didn’t stop screaming. She didn’t fall asleep, and I was furious because I was tired. I was hungry, and because night time is MY time: my time to work or relax. My time to Netflix or eat as many cookies as I damn well please.

I slapped my hand against the wall, I turned to my husband and grumbled “oh for f**ks sake,” and then I begrudgingly stomped down our hallway. I threw open the door to her bedroom.

“Mommy, mommy!” She cried.

“What?” I snapped. My tone was short. My voice was rough around the edges.

“I so, so sad because you left me, Mommy. I want to snuggle you. Please. Just a little bit.”

My husband laughed. “Talk about a guilt trip” he whispered, and while he was right, it was also working because my resolve crumbled when I saw her glassy eyes. My resolve crumbled when I saw her tear-soaked sheets.

“OK…but just for another minute.”

And so, yet again, I crawled into her toddler bed. I wedged my body between hers and a dozen “animal friends,” I rested my chin rested on her forehead, and I placed my arm around her stomach.

She wrapped her little hand around mine.

Make no mistake: I was still angry, but as I lay there in the dark — looking at the butterflies on her wall and the toys laying on her floor — I began to settle. I began to calm down. And before long, both she and I were relaxed. The “rage” I was fighting had been smothered her Frozen blanket.

Before long, her breathing slowed, and the sniffles stopped. Before long, I could feel her hand falling out of mine.

I could have gotten up. I could have left, but I chose to stay. I lingered for another minute.

Because the truth is we both needed this. We both needed to be comforted for a moment. We both needed to feel loved for a moment, and we both needed one another. And sure, I did loose some “me time,” but I gained so much more in the silence, in the darkness, in those still and motionless minutes than I ever imagined because sometimes our greatest needs aren’t so “great” at all. Sometimes it isn’t what we “do” in our day that matters — it isn’t about what we accomplish or achieve that makes a difference — sometimes life is all about sitting and being. Sometimes we all just need to lay down, shut up, and be still.

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