The familiar scampering footsteps. I know who it is. He runs everywhere, and his first hop out of bed each morning is no exception. A chink of light as he pushes the bedroom door open, then more running. All the way around to my side of the bed – it’s always my side of the bed. I open my eyes and smile up at him, pulling back the duvet. He clambers in, and the snuggling starts. Deep dive snuggling. Catching up on eleven hours apart snuggling. We’ll never be apart again snuggling. And early though it is – much as I don’t want to open my eyes – I wouldn’t trade it.
I didn’t think this day would ever come. By the time the eldest was old enough to hop out of bed herself, she already had a younger sister. Invariably I’d been up multiple times during the night, so the morning toddle to my side of the bed wasn’t necessarily welcomed with open arms. Of course, I did literally welcome her with open arms – it wasn’t her fault I was barely conscious – but a huge part of me desperately wished she’d go back to sleep or go to the other side of the bed. And by the time the second could follow suit, her baby brother was already in the bed, following even more night-time wakings. Handling five in the bed after no sleep is not my strong point. Especially when the territorial arguments kick in.
But now the girls sleep later. On school days, we have to wake them. At weekends, they’re allowed TV in the morning, so when they come in, it’s to ask if they can go downstairs and turn on the television. They still hop into the bed sometimes, but it’s not so early and not for long. The small boy is the only early bird now. And it’s not as early as it used to be. And he almost always sleeps all through the night now. And I’ve discovered that when I’ve had a full night’s sleep, I can handle early mornings. A full night’s sleep is like a super power you only discover after years without.
And the the thing is, it won’t always be like this. Anecdotally, I hear stories of kids who no longer want kisses and cuddles and snuggles. Of starting school and being cool, and not wanting so much hand-holding. Maybe my boy will always want hugs, but maybe not. So when he comes in each morning, the smile is real, because I know it won’t always be like this.
Well, you know, 95% real. There’s always part of me that could do with five more minutes of sleep.