One of the themes that seems to have developed in this blog is my experience of things that parents of older children did not warn me about such as continuing disturbed sleep. I have, on balance, seemed to regard these as negative. However, one aspect of fatherhood that I have been surprised about is the cuddle. I had expected to be able to hold my new born and give them a cuddle, but I did not expect it to be the gift that just went on giving quite so much.
It is not just the act of cuddling that I really enjoy, it is also what it represents. It tells me that the boys trust me and enjoy, and find comfort in, a cuddle. This came to me last night when I was sitting in with Sam as he settled in bed. As you may know we now sit in with the boys until they go to sleep. Last night Jake was so tired that he voluntarily went to bed early, and Sam went on his own later. Every five minutes as I sat there Sam would get out of bed, come and sit on my lap and give me a quick cuddle and them go back into bed. It seemed to calm him down, and give him some reassurance that he could safely go to sleep.
The day nearly always starts with a cuddle too. No matter how undisturbed the night is, Jake always likes to come in and have a cuddle before he fully wakes up (Sam likes to do the same with Karen), and when either of them are not feeling well they like to come and sit with us and curl up. It is never nice to see the boys getting poorly, but at least we can do something for them by giving them comfort as they often seem so helpless when they are ill, and as a result we as parents can feel helpless too.
Then there is the three or four times a day that one or other of the boys falls over, walks into something, bites their tongue, pokes themselves in the eye, is tired, or one of them is suffering as a result of some fracas with the other. These are all situations where a cuddle is required, and again it is great to feel that I can do something for them at these times.
I feel privileged to be able to play this role for the boys, and sometimes I feel a little guilty that I am enjoying this perk when they are probably feeling vulnerable and wanting to get better as quickly as possible but, really, a good cuddle does help the healing process along, and helps them to forget their pain quite quickly.
I am under no illusion that eventually the cuddles will get fewer and farther between as the boys get older, and probably rightly so, but at the moment they are prevalent and I consider it one of the top perks of being a parent. Long live the cuddle.