Queen in the Quiet of My Child’s World

Bonding and co-sleeping

By Angela Noel

March 27, 2018

Lying close to my son as he slowly drifts into sleep is the most cost-effective therapy I know. But I know it can’t last.

Most nights, at least lately, after we snuggle and he reads a few pages from a chapter book, I say goodnight and exit his room. Then he reads a few pages of a comic book (Garfield or Calvin and Hobbs) on his own before flipping off his reading light and heading to snooze-town. But one night recently, we turned off the lights and I stayed a bit longer. He flung his arm around my neck and nuzzled a little closer. “Tonight,” he said, “you’re my stuffy.”

Bonding Time

When he was little we didn’t co-sleep regularly. Though occasionally we both needed a few extra cuddles, or circumstances simply made the arrangement not just convenient but necessary. For example, soon after I separated from his dad, we went on a family trip to Disneyworld complete with a Disney Cruise. Jackson was a few months shy of five years old. We snuggled up in the big double bed in our stateroom each evening. I loved those nights.

However, I didn’t want to make bed sharing a habit because I didn’t want his sleep to be dependent on his proximity to me. And yet I valued the bonding.  I loved watching the rise and fall of his warm chest and the way his eyelids fluttered in sleep. Or how he’d scoot his little self as close to me as possible, as if we still shared the same skin.

I recall sleeping in my parent’s bed as a child. On those nights when I had a bad dream, I’d knock on my parent’s door and they’d always let me in. My mom would curl her body around me. I remember the soft nylon of her nightgown and how she’d sleepily say, “I love you. Go to sleep now.” I’ve never felt as safe as I did falling asleep next to the person who I knew loved me most in the world.

Mom and her two babies. Bonding time.
Who wouldn’t want to snuggle with this lovely woman? I’m about four years old here, sitting on the left. My little sister, Dawn, on the right.

So I think of that now with my son. The upwelling of motherly love I feel as I sense his body relaxing into sleep is evanescent. But it’s different for him. For him, I’m the most, the best, the sun, and the stars. I’m his everything. To the rest of the world I’m one of the many. To my child I am the one.

In the long hours of the day though, mom is easily forgotten. Friends, school, stepdad, dad, dog, video games, piano lessons, secret hankerings for a McDonalds Happy Meal, books, Legos, bad jokes, weird dance moves . . . these things fill his mind. But in the quiet, mom is queen.

The Time is Short

Nowadays, camping out in mom’s bed is a rarity, a treat. He’s getting older. The wingspan of his once-little arms makes it so I barricade him on one side of the king-sized bed to avoid a punch in the face. I know the time is short when he’ll even want to be close to me. I’m not entirely ready to let it go.

Less rare, but still infrequent are the nights, when we lie forehead to forehead after the bookmark has been set and the lights turned out. I know he’s willing himself to sleep before I leave the room–I know because he’s told me so. I stay until his breath deepens, then wait a moment or two more. Sneaking out, the door closing behind me, I know one more day in his childhood has ended.

Soon, the crowds will clamor. Friends will dominate his world. The secrets of boyhood are multiplying even now. But we still have this. I’m still the queen in the quiet.

These moments, poignant and powerful in part because they have an expiration date, will end. But the memories live on–perhaps even in the very cells of our skin.

Bonding and Co-sleeping
Four-year-old Jackson, four years ago this month, sat down to watch the wide world slip by in a rare moment of contemplation.

Your turn: What are your memories of bonding with your parents or your children?

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Author: Angela Noel

Seeker and promoter of awesome people and ideas.

50 thoughts on “Queen in the Quiet of My Child’s World”

  1. I loved the security of creeping into their bed when scared… and I know my Lil Princess feels it too… she often creeps in!!!! But more from habit than because she’s scared!

    1. I read that this closeness is a human imperative. To me, it just plain feels right. I’m so glad both she and you welcome the closeness (though I had no doubt from all the love I know you have for your little ones).

  2. Beautiful post, Angela. I don’t recall snuggles with my parents, but I do with my grandparents. I remember the feel and smell of the sheets. I seemed to get lost in the duvet back them. Precious memories…a shame that we have to grow up in some ways 🙂

  3. Oh yes. I still get lots of cuddles from my 11 year old – it’s like that’s how she re-sets and she needs a hug to wake up in the morning. My 13 year old less so. She always chooses when I am serving dinner and I need my arms: I stop what I’m doing because it’s so special now!
    I do miss the falling asleep days, and feeding. But I still love to gaze at their faces, and stroke their hair. ❤️

    1. I’m so glad you said that–that you stop what you’re doing to give the teenager the hug. I think of this often. It’s so not easy to do, I think we expect those moments to come at a convenient time for us (I know I sometimes do) but they don’t. And I think they don’t with co-workers either or friends. Sometimes it’s not convenient to pick up the phone or when someone stops by with a question. We can’t always stop and give our full attention, but when we can we should. You are an excellent example for me and others.

  4. my son is 10 now and I really miss those snuggle days. every once in awhile he will snuggle up as we watch a movie on our movie night. I love watching him grow and mature and needing me less and less…what am I saying? I hate it..LOL. Great post!

    1. Wonderful! You’ve got it right: love it/hate it. It’s two sides of the same thing.
      We do movie nights too! But I don’t get a lot of movie snuggles. When I do, it’s a special thing for sure.

  5. These tender stories of love and cherished moments are so important. We rush through life assuming there will be more opportunities, more time to share our love with others. In sharing your thoughts you remind us how valuable and fleeting time is, how easily it is lost. You are also creating a memoir for Jackson that will carry him through inevitable trials in this process of living.

  6. What a beautiful post Angela! I used to love these quiet times with my girls but I don’t ever remember being allowed to sleep in my parents bed!! Enjoy this precious time 🙂

  7. Oh Angela. This is the sweetest, most beautiful post I think I’ve ever read. It brought a little tear to my eye. My daughter & I rarely sleep together as she likes to kick me throughout the night when we do! But my goodness, she loves to snuggle up at night in her bed and as we say goodnight to each other. She always asks that I stay and sleep in her bed instead of mine & it does kind of break my heart when I give my disappointing answer every night. I know to make the most of her wanting to be close to me because as you say it won’t last & probably for not much longer. It will probably happen over night even. Nobody told me that parenthood is seemingly about your heart being broken. Repeatedly.

    1. That last line is poetry itself. It is heartbreaking and heart-building. I wonder if parental hearts are the true mythic phoenix, turning to ash, but rising again.
      I absolutely know that little voice asking for a little more snuggle. Every time I walk through that door, I wish I had stayed. Sometimes I go back for a little while–but not often. It’s just as you said, a tug, a rip, a tear, and then we do it all again. Thank you so much for such a beautiful comment and reflection.

  8. Your words brought me chills today. You describe these special childhood moments perfectly – moments that we all realize are fleeting. Aren’t we lucky though – to be able to experience all that we do? I really feel grateful when thoughts like the one you have written show up during the day. Both of my kids still love to cuddle – thank goodness. And, my daughter wants to be just like her mother. Today we’re both wearing pink sweatshirts with yoga pants. While we were on our walk my daughter said “Mom, I wish you had really blonde hair.” Really? Why do you say that? I asked. Just then my son piped in “She just wants you to look exactly like her.” “Yep!” my daughter replied. I’m just going enjoy this while I can – we know this won’t last forever. Ha! Just like Hayley, I got a bit of a misty eye while reading your beautiful story. Thanks so much for sharing it with us all.

    1. What a beautiful thing to have a little person want to be just like you! You and your daughter remind me of the first time i went on an airplane. My mom and I wore matching outfits, I was in the third grade. What a lucky mom you are to have these wonderful, loving beings who still want to cuddle! And how lucky we all are to have such little joys (even if it isn’t forever.) Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and love.

  9. Such honest beauty, I can empathise with each word. The impracticality yet absolute perfection of having your child sleep next to you…it is just everything. I loved this post, Angela <3

    1. Thanks, Em. You’ve got it exactly and I love how you put that, “absolute perfection. . .” These little beings, how magical (and sometimes very sticky) they are.

  10. Beautiful. I feel the love again of those sute chubby arms reading your post. My little ones are now towering over me long past being chubby and snuggly. 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your memory. I know it’s something to look forward to in a way–when kids grow up–but I just want to hold on and stop time every now and again.

  11. I don’r know–at 12, my son still hanker to get in our bed when only one of us is present. In fact, sometime he’ll get up and move to our bed once my wife and I are awake. As a kid, I was allowed to spend the day in my parents’ bed when I was home sick for the day. There is something comforting and healing about a parent’s bed. When my son is sick, he’ll still gravitate towards our bed, but he is usually more anxious than germy.

    1. I’m glad to hear that I have potentially 4 more years of snuggles to look forward to. It’s awesome that you still have and want to have some of this downtime with your son. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Beautiful words! My 10yo loves snuggles… he curls himself on my lap… not easy since his less than a foot shorter than me! Still wants a hug/kiss and song at bedtime! Cherishing every one… just in case he suddenly stops!

    1. Perfect! I think that’s exactly right. We don’t know the exact minute when it will be the last snuggle, so let’s enjoy every single one. Yesterday, my son wanted a few extra hugs. I was racing out the door for work. But I remembered comments like yours and how precious this is and stayed the extra minute. I’m so glad I did.

  13. My son was 3 when his dad and I separated and he was still sleeping with us somewhat regularly. However, from that time until kindergarten he slept with me consistently. Even after I bought him a special big boy bed, he would still join me in the morning for snuggle (tickles, etc) for several years more. They are some of my most precious memories. Now, I help them live on in hugs before he leaves for work and touches on the back during church. I’m not sure if they remind him of those days but they sure do for me.

    1. What a wonderful memory. These are perfect moments, and even though they change it’s still just plain magic. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  14. my wife and I are have been going through some stuff over the past 6 months and there was a period where my daughter was sleeping in my room and my wife was sleeping in hers. Now that the teen has moved out my wife is in that room and the six year old has hers back, which is good of course, but I’ll admit that I miss her a little bit some nights. Shes often in bed before I get home from work.

    1. Isn’t it interesting that our culture is one of few that thinks its “weird’ to share a bed or a room with a child? Many cultures welcome the closeness and it’s so clear why. It’s comforting for us all. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sending you love, knowing how hard “stuff” can sometimes be.

  15. As always, this is so beautifully written. Your words took me back to those days when my children were small and wanted nothing more than to be close and snuggle. Now, my son is a big, hairy……well, man. My daughter is never home. Still love them to pieces, but we are entering a different phase of life.

    1. I fear the big and hairy days! But, I know (or rather hope) I’ll still be able to see the little boy inside the man. I don’t want to count on grandchildren someday, but I see my mom with my kid and cross my fingers that I’ll get another little creature to cuddle down the road. (Or else, I’ll get a real cute puppy.)
      Thanks for reading and sharing your memory, Allison!

  16. Surprising, my favorite bonding time with my son was when he was a teenager. During the day, he would hang with his friends, never showing a loving moment for his mother because our house was the hang-out place and you never know when the door might open and a kid would walk in. But at night, after the friends were gone and he didn’t have to fear anyone seeing him being sweet to his mother, he would sit on the edge of my bed and tell me about his day. Those are the moments I remember.

    1. That’s so wonderful to hear! One of my former sister-in-laws mentioned that every year gets better. And based on your comment, I have hope that can be true even through the teenage years. As with many things, love and closeness through time isn’t an “or” it’s an “and.”

  17. Angela your lovely post brings back memories of my snuggly years with my boys. My youngest, who co-slept for his first couple of years, is now 26, but when I see him he still gives me lovely tight lingering hugs, which is just so nice. And he’s the one who wrote a little love note to the most important woman in his life when he was about 4 and (a little precociously) just learning to spell and write – “Mum you are so much so beautiful”. I still have it (of course)!!

    1. What a precious memory! I’m so glad you shared it with me. It brought a big smile to my face. While normally I’m not a fan of too much clutter, these little love notes are truly jewels. Thank you for reading and commenting with your experiences–I love it.

  18. Thanks for liking my blog. My youngest son is now, Oh no I’m not sure, I think 44??? where did all the time go to…I loved snuggling in bed with my kids and I remember the frustration you talk about. lovely post.

    1. Snuggling is so special. Maybe more so because it’s finite. Maybe this is why I know I’ll always want to have a dog around. They never grow out of snuggling.

  19. This is beautiful! I do believe memories like these “live in in the cells of our skin,” as you said. And I like that you’ve written them down all of us to enjoy! They remind me of my own sweet cuddles with my boys.

    1. Hi, Rica! Thank you so much for reading and sharing the joys of your own experiences. These sweet times just don’t last long enough. Or maybe that’s why they’re so poignant in the first place, so valuable because they can’t be forever the same.

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