I was taking a nap on the couch. The house was unusually quiet with my girls off playing at the neighbor’s, my boys taking advantage of the beautiful fall weather with an afternoon run. I found the couch, spent a few minutes on my iPad, then came to my senses and put it away, cozied into the pillow and shut my eyes. I listened as my own breathing became rhythmic and deep. What a lovely way to spend a quiet moment on a Sunday afternoon.
I had just drifted far enough off to think to myself when I heard the door open and my boy walked in the house: This is the beginning of the end of my nap. I felt a little sad. I felt a little bummed that I had not allowed myself to nod off sooner. And then I felt my son sit next to me on the couch. He snuggled against me, fitting his body into the folds and angles of mine, and he sat with me. He just sat with me. In that moment all my disappointment at an early awakening disappeared, completely replaced by awe and gratitude at the boy draped against me like a familiar blanket.
I mean, who does that? Who goes up to a sleeping person and just joins in the moment? Would you do that with a friend? A sibling? Even a spouse? It’s such an intimate thing—sharing in someone’s quiet moment, sharing in someone’s sleep, sharing that space and that touch. How many people would you dare to touch on their face, on their waist, or to offer a warm embrace uninvited? I know my list for such intimacy is short. My son didn’t think twice about it, making himself at home in my slumber as though he belonged there, as though my space was his space too. And indeed it was. I felt profoundly honored by the audacity and beauty of a moment in which my son took possession of what anyone else would have relinquished as mine. Just about anyone else would have kept their distance, but my boy saw me and was drawn. I wanted the moment to never end.
I want to revel in those moments of raw beauty, of shared connection. As much as moms often feel over-touched and over-crowded with little ones crawling and grabbing and needing so much physical attention, I’m pretty sure without all the touching and needing and pulling and leaning I might just wither a little bit. I need touch. I love that my kids know how to give and give and give it.
Maybe one of the most precious lessons of parenting for me is the acknowledgement of needs that cannot be met within ourselves. We live in culture of such independence it’s easy to overlook that it’s interdependence that really feeds us. It’s the connection with other people, the intimacy shared in relationships that bring satisfaction and meaning to our lives. To know that I have something to offer and then to offer it; to know others have treasures to offer me and to accept these precious gifts—this is true connection. This.
It makes being woken early from an afternoon nap worth it every time.