"Can I Snuggle You?" A Story About Intentionality
Recently I had a revelation about myself. Now, this is not a surprising turn of events, because I tend to be very self-evaluating (as a lot of us are). I consider the order in which I do things to make the best use of my time, I try to not let my kids start bad habits, I make lists of rooms to clean, and I start new “systems” on the regular. Understanding this about myself has actually made me realize that this efficiency-driven side of me might just be stealing some potentially joyful and carefree moments from my life, and because of that I’ve recently embarked on a personal mission to be “intentionally present”, in the here-and-now. I do this by noticing something beautiful around me, or taking a deep breath or a momentary pause, or standing in the shower one minute longer than normal, or even just choosing the FUN thing over the PRACTICAL thing, when given a choice. I’m trying to remember that not everything has to work perfectly all the time. Of course there’s a place for order in life, but my challenge has never been finding order - it’s much more work for me to find contentment.
And that brings me to the photo above that I wanted to share.
For the last 5 months or so, my littlest guy, Phineas Brave Parnell, has been getting up around 6:15am, coming into our room and straight to my side of the bed, where he whispers, “Can I snuggle you?” I’m not even kidding, that’s exactly what he says. I know how cute and dreamy this behavior appears at the surface, but initially I was worried. My mind went to every book, article and blog post I’d read and obey about helping your kids develop good sleeping habits.
But in to the chorus of all the “Don’t start a bad habit” anthems ringing in my head, came two, single, game-changing thoughts. The first was: “It won’t always be like this.” Soon, my little boy will be big, and he’ll sleep later into the morning. He’ll leave the house to go to school. He’ll have sports and hobbies and friends who aren’t me. My time with him is currently on a downward trajectory, becoming shorter and shorter until the day he leaves our nest entirely and launches out into the big world.
The second thought was of all the women around the world who would give anything to have sweet little soul of their own asking them to snuggle every morning. And I thought about all the little souls out there who dream of having a mama to open the covers and hold them at the start of every day. The fact is that I have a beautiful little boy who comes to me each morning in search of comfort, warmth, security and snuggles…and whatever it is that he’s looking for, he’s finding in me. And at the cost of efficiency, and maybe even a little sleep training regression, I can certainly give that to him.
The photo above is from this morning. It’s been about 5 months, and he still comes in for snuggles every day, like clockwork. In my search for beauty and contentedness, I’ve started to realize that I’m not only the rule-keeper, or the raiser of good, honest, hard-working men. I’m also the fulfillment of Finn’s search for comfort. Maybe if I can show him the warm security he’s looking for, he’ll always remember that in me, he can find safety. Maybe when our time together is harder to come by, he’ll still know he can find a refuge in me. I hope that’s true, because I know he’ll need it. We live in a really tough world, and raising the kind of men I want to raise means they’ll face some fierce fights out there. In giving him the comfort and security he needs now, it will develop a strength in him to face those fights with courage and bravery, and then open his arms and heart to a world searching for a warm blanket on a cold morning.
If you’re like me, always looking at processes and striving to be “better”, can I just encourage you to try two things today?
Find a place in your own soul that needs fulfilling, and take a moment to relish what it feels like to really care for it. We need more of that feeling in our lives. And…
Look for a place you can fill someone else’s soul, even in a small way. Even if it’s just a smile or a kind word or a long hug. I promise you’ll find someone who needs something that you can give.
Author: Whitney Parnell | @whitneyellenparnell