(Note: This is a different style of post for me, but I had a lot of time to think about it EARLY this morning so I thought I'd try it out. I apologize in advance if I've messed up the tense anywhere. I tried to proofread thoroughly, but I sometimes find it difficult to edit my own work.)
It's 4AM and I'm trapped in the death-grip hug of a 4-year-old. I can tell by the uneven breath on my cheek that he is still awake. He was just snuggled up to me before, but as soon as I tried to get up, I got the hug. I can't sleep like this and I have no idea how he can either. But he is. At least drifting off. I'm SO tired and I have to get up for work in two hours, but this is what moms do. So I just lay here, waiting for him to fall asleep for real so I can get up and get in my own bed and catch a few more winks before my alarm goes off.
My arm is getting numb so I shift and he hugs tighter. When you're that little, you don't think about how silly it is to hug someone's neck like you have to hold on for dear life. You just think if you hold on to them you won't be alone or scared or sad, so you hold on. As we grow up, we realize there are personal boundaries and we don't cling to other people like that. But I fully understand the impulse. There are days I just want to hold on for dear life to the people I love. There are days I don't want to leave the house or I don't want Ryan and the boys to leave because I just want to hold on to them. To keep them close where I can see they are safe. To hold on to them so none of us will be alone or scared or sad. This is an impulse I can control. Of course I don't just stay at home or try to keep my family at home all the time. But there are days it takes a surprising amount of effort for me to not cling just a little too long.
I'm lost in thought when he finally relaxes his grip and lets go. He rolls over on his back, arms above his head, like kids sleep when they are completely exhausted. I can tell he is really asleep now, even though he is still moving his fingers and sighs deeply when I move. He looks so little when he sleeps, but I know it will be far too soon when he will not be little and the last thing he will want is a hug from his mom when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Time for me to retreat, but I stay for just a few more minutes and watch him sleep. I guess I am clinging to him, even though we're not touching.