Embracing the CuddlesFor those who don’t know, S has been poorly lately. For the last month or so, she’s had what can only be described as the evil cold of doom. She’s very weepy and clingy, and she’s not been sleeping at night.

I’ve lost count of the number of nights we’ve ended up awake and watching The Grinch (the original Dr Seuss one!) at 2, 3 and 4am. It’s really tough to be woken every single night with Mummy, I want a cuddle please  and not just shout oh for goodness’ sake just go to bloody sleep would you. Especially when you run into the second, third and fourth week of interrupted sleep. I can recite large chunks of the Grinch – especially the song – by heart. You’re a mean one, mister grinch…

Of course, when we’re not sleeping at night, neither of us is too chirpy during the day – especially by the afternoon, when S is usually clambering all over me and wanting a cuddle or just to hold my hand or be next to me at all times. 

At first, I resisted it. When she wanted a 50th cuddle I would say again!? and try to persuade her to just sit next to me rather than on me, or to play with her toys while I cooked dinner. It invariably ended in tears.

And then, one afternoon as she climbed onto my lap for the millionth time, shoving her knees and elbows into the softest parts of my body, instead of saying hey, go careful  or mind my drink I said 

Oh, great! Cuddles! I love cuddling you, it’s my favourite.

I decided to just let it go. Let go of my need for personal space; let go of my need to drink warm coffee; let go of my need to update my Facebook or send that email or cook the tea or whatever. I resolved to repeat this same line whenever S crawled up into my lap (or accidentally headbutted me in the middle of the night) wanting a cuddle.

I am still knackered. We still wake up in the middle of the night and end up watching The Grinch. I still get elbows in my belly and headbuts and scratches and all sorts. I still have a dead arm most mornings when I wake up. She still clings to me at inconvenient times and is often right behind me whenever I turn around.

My deciding to welcome her endless cuddles doesn’t seem to have lessened them at all. 

What it has changed is me.

Instead of thinking ergh, I really just need some space where I’m not being poked at I remind myself that actually, cuddles are more important. There will come a time when S doesn’t want to sit on my lap. A time when she has her own bedroom and doesn’t wake me at 4am for a cuddle. A time when she doesn’t want to cling to my leg or be within touching distance at all times. 

So what are a few knees in my belly or dead arms at 3am? In the grand scheme of things, is anything more important than my 3 year old needing a cuddle? 

In the last couple of weeks I have missed phone calls, been late responding to emails, lost track of my Twitter feed. But none of that is important. If S wants a cuddle, then we will cuddle. I’ll even sit with her on my lap and watch the same episode of Fireman bloody Sam over and over again. And I will say, to myself as much as to her, 

Oh, great! Cuddles! I love cuddling you, it’s my favourite!

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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