Can I be honest? Of all the things I miss about Mat, I miss his body the most.
I take that back. Let’s not be too honest. But let me just say that in our not-quite 13 years of marriage we spent a lot of nights sleeping together. We had a king-size bed that felt big enough for us each to have our own zip code, but always started the night curled up together in some configuration or another. Eventually I would get too hot and retreat to my side of the bed, but not before some seriously satisfying spooning. I miss it.
Turns out I’m not the only one who’s desperate for this kind of human touch. I was out to dinner last night with some of my widowed friends, and this topic came up. Elaine, a mom of three girls, has been trying to teach her five-year-old daughter Kate how to spoon with her. She described the scene: she’s trying to arrange Kate in spoon position, and she’s getting stiff resistance. Legs are not properly tucked, body is twisting, and arms are flailing.
“Mom, I don’t want to lay on my side! I can’t see the TV that way! Why do I have to lay on my side?”
Poor Peter has it worse. His kids are both teenagers, and even the thought of a bedtime snuggle would be met with icy stares. He’s never dared to bring it up. Like most of us, Peter is having a serious dispute with God over how his life is turning out, and he was making cracks about going to see his priest to try to work things out. Someone said, very inappropriately (it wasn’t me, I swear), “Just be careful you don’t get molested by the priest.”
His response? “I don’t care if I get molested as long as I get to spoon afterwards. I haven’t been spooned in two years!”
“Too bad I didn’t drive my minivan,” sympathized Elaine. “Otherwise we could head out there right now.”
Likewise, I am desperate. I spend most of my time scheming how to get my kids to snuggle me. Or, as Bev Goldberg on our favorite TV show The Goldbergs puts it, trying to get snuggies.
Ian is 12, almost 13, so this is tricky. I have to play it cool, or I will scare him off entirely. When I’m lucky, he comes to me. He might jump into bed with me for a minute in the morning while he’s waiting for the water in the shower to heat up. The house is cold, my bed is warm, and it’s right next to the bathroom. I bite my tongue about the wasted water and go in for the snuggle.
More often the best I can do is very subtly sidle up for a hug. Sometimes when I’ve made Ian’s favorite breakfast (French toast), or helped him pack his lunch, or unexpectedly done the laundry for him, he’ll throw his arms around me. Those are good. I make French toast almost every week to try to get one of those hugs. I’m careful not to hold on too long, though. I want him to come back for more.
Colin is an easier target. He’s a delightfully squishy 9-year-old who likes nothing better than to snuggle with his mom. This is mostly because he likes to sleep in my bed, which is more comfortable than his. And inevitably, he gets to stay up later when he’s in my room. He reads or draws while I wind down for the evening, and then it’s a full-on snuggle fest.
The downside is that after he falls asleep, he elbows me in the back, kicks me, takes the covers, talks in his sleep, and rolls to my side of the bed, leaving me with a tiny sliver of mattress. There’s nothing restful about it. But it’s worth it.
Occasionally Colin will use snuggies as a bargaining tool. It works. Last week he wanted a new junk ball bat, and he started pleading his case. “Mom, can I have a new bat? This one is old and dented. It doesn’t work anymore!” There’s nothing wrong with his bat, so I ignored him. That’s when he started making offers.
“I’ll give you snuggies for an hour!” Tempting, but I was on the phone, so I waved him away. He persisted. “Two hours!” Still no response, so he upped the ante. Finally, at five hours of snuggies a day for a week, I hung up.
“Deal,” I said.
Sometimes I get a two-fer. Our favorite family activity is watching TV and movies together. I don’t care if you think this is lame, I get snuggies out of the deal. I make popcorn and we head to the basement which is unheated, and we huddle together for warmth. Heaven.
I realize my luck will run out. My day will come. My kids will both be teenagers. They will stop telling me things, stop laughing at my jokes, stop thinking I am even remotely cool. Worst, I suspect they will stop wanting to snuggle me.
But in the meantime, when’s Colin getting home from baseball practice? I could use some snuggies.
And he still owes me four hours and forty-five minutes.