My tween daughter, independence and intensity all wrapped up in an adolescent package, still asks me this question every night: Will you lay with me?
I remember the rocking chair we spent so many hours in. Holding her in that chair, the length of her body stretched only to my belly button. She couldn't talk then, but it was evident that was one of her favorite places on earth.
What seems like only yesterday, little running toddler feet would head down the hallway to my bed. She would crawl over me and nuzzle her little body against mine, and we would rest well.
In her first "big bed", her body was longer, but she still fit perfectly into mine as I snuggled her to sleep.
"Ma-ma, ay wit me" were some of her first words put into a sentence. Her outstretched arms aimed at me made it clear: She wanted to be in my arms.
Now, at almost 13, my daughter's body stretches almost as long as mine. She runs to her friends more than she runs to me. My tween holds my hand a little less and spends time in her room a little more. But one thing remains: She still wants to end her day in her mama's arms.
And, yes, there are dishes I need to finish cleaning, papers I should grade, laundry to fold, and let's not forget, I am just flat worn out from the day. My own bed is calling my name. But, I know that one day this independent daughter of mine will lay in a bed not under this roof. The time seems too near that she will not be in the next room. Every minute I can hold her in my arms and talk her to sleep is to be cherished. So, when she asks me to lay with her, I say YES.
My growing son is turning into a man.
I remember those big eyes falling asleep when I rocked him in that same rocking chair. His clenched fist has held tightly to my long hair ever since he learned to grab, and this has always helped him sleep well. He, too, ran as fast as he could to my bed in the early morning when it was still dark, because his eyes opened a little too early and "Mama" was his first thought when he woke. He couldn't get to me soon enough. He was so proud of his first big bed, like Sissy's, but it still wasn't as cozy as mine and he would snuggle us there as much as he could.
Today, my big-eyed boy is 10. When he sits on my lap now, I feel how heavy he is. When in public, he holds my hand, but not quite as long as he used to. Once attached to my hip, I can't hold him anymore. This boy of mine is learning about girls and women and grown up things, so the healthy distance has started.
But, my boy-turning-into-a-man still wants to know every night: Will you lay with me? His hands are still small compared to his daddy's, and they still find my hair and hold on tight.
My dishes can wait. Work doesn't come first. They can wear wrinkled clothes tomorrow, if it means the laundry has to wait so I can be where I am meant to be: Holding my big kids in my arms. Because there is no where else I'd rather be and I know one day I will miss it so much it hurts.