One of my most favourite things to do-in days filled with school runs, housework, dinners, baths, keeping the kids alive, etc-happens at 10pm.
At 10pm, the husband and I drag our ridiculously tired selves to bed. Now, as much as I love all that goes with bedtime, (the silence being one of the major loves of my evenings), it’s not quite up there with something else I do every night.
At 10pm, I head up to the top of the house to pay a visit to my biggest kidlet.
I un-ruffle the duvet from under and around his sleeping body, locate his favourite cuddly elephant, check he’s not too hot or cold and tuck him back in.
I then always stroke his face, smooth down his unruly bed hair, kiss his forehead, and tell him “Mummy loves you”. Sometimes he murmurs a reply of “love you” back- other times he doesn’t stir, but I always say it anyway.
Shortly after, I go back down to the littlest kidlet’s room, where things are sometimes a little different.
80% of the time, she will tend to be somewhere else in her bed, in comparison to where I originally tucked her in a few hours ago.
Instead of angelically laying on her pillow, the right way up, she tends to be upside down, back to front, laying on top of the covers.
Because she’s not in the right place, more often than not when I go to move her, she stirs. And, sometimes, following all of this, she also needs a cuddle.
Sleepy cuddles are definitely my absolute favourite type of cuddles.
All squishy and warm, their sleepy bodies mould into yours, and sometimes you hold them for so long (accidentally of course), that they fall back to sleep.
Just for a second, you’re transported back to when they were babies, and you rocked them to sleep when they were teething, poorly or generally unsettled.
Once resettled, the little lady’s cuddly is also located, her covers are tucked back in, her hair is smoothed and her cheek Is stroked.
A little more alert than her brother, we sometimes have sleepy conversations that more often than not, go exactly like this.
“Mummy loves you.”
“Olivia loves you.”
“Mummy loves you more.”
“Olivia loves you most.”
We leave it there with her thinking she’s won that battle of love declaration, but obviously I know better.
These times, every night, when it’s just me and them-no noise, no worries and nothing to busy us, are so precious to me.
I sometimes find my mind attempts to lull me into being sad-into missing the baby cuddles, or worrying about the day I won’t get to do these sleepy little rituals with them.
Instead, I try and look forward to all the cuddles and sleepy conversations still to come. The endless possibilities of hair smoothing, cheek stroking, and murmured “I love you’s”.
Then, I feel like the luckiest mummy on the planet-and look forward to 10pm the next night, once again.