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It happens every morning when I’m off and up before the rest of the family. I’ll be in my little studio, playing on the computer or something, and Bryony will wander in, fresh out of bed and half-awake. She’ll climb into my lap, wrap her little arms around my neck, lay her head on my shoulder, and cuddle. There are no – or very few – words spoken. They’re not needed. Every so often, she’ll look up at me and grin, and put her head back down, and we’ll sit in the chair, just rocking, our arms wrapped around each other, my head resting on top of hers.

This isn’t something she shares with her sister or her dad. Just me, and she’s been doing it for most of her life. She was born knowing how to cuddle. From infancy, we called her the energy sink, because if you picked her up, it was a virtual guarantee you were going to be napping together in no time. She’d burrow into your chest and that would be it. She loves cuddling, and she’s good at it.

It’s one of those habits that you keep in the stockpile of memories in your head. Most of us know we’re going to love our children before they’re even born. None of us realize just how much we’re going to love them. We also know that by the time puberty hits, all the lovey-dovey stuff will most likely be over, and so you tuck these memories away, close to your heart, so you can pull them out and revisit them when your teen is being particularly obnoxious, and remember when he or she had the sweetest smile and disposition of any child ever born.

But just now, she is only five. She hasn’t yet learned from other children that mom and dad are not cool, their music old-fashioned, they don’t know anything, and are woefully uninformed about anything of importance. She doesn’t know all that yet. Right now, Mama is still her best friend, and I don’t discourage it yet. The day will come soon enough where I have to be mom only, and no longer her buddy.

I’m a different mom than my own was. I never doubted that she loved me, not really, although I remember plenty of wailing on my part about just that very thing when I wasn’t allowed to do or have something I wanted when I was a kid. Mom wasn’t cuddly; she did other things to show her love, like sew our clothes or teach me to knit or read every story I ever wrote. Me, I’m the mom who rolls on the floor tickling her kids, who buys Animal Crossing for two different handheld game systems just so she can play with her kid, who hugs and kisses and says “I love you” every other minute just because she wants to be very certain that the girls know they are loved, even when Mama is mad. I’m the one that actually likes to watch “Phineas and Ferb” or “Samurai Jack” with them. I let them crawl all over me and have pillow and snowball fights with them.

And as much as I am so not a morning person, I live for those early morning cuddles with Bryony. Aneira was never this cuddly when she was smaller. She’s a little more into it now that she’s older, oddly enough, but cuddling with her, while still fun, involves never-ending chatter about any and everything. With Bryony, it’s just peaceful and relaxing. It’s the only time she is relaxing. The rest of the day is a whirlwind of activity with her, all the way till bedtime. But both of the girls have learned to be free and open with hugs, kisses, and “I love you”. Of course, being sisters, they’re equally free with “I hate you”.

Nope, I had no idea just how much I was going to love these kids, none whatsoever. No idea that I would finally understand what my parents meant when they would say “This will hurt me more than it does you.” There is just so much dreamy-eyes, sappy love in my heart for these two little girls, and it saves me, every day of my life. They drive me insane – only their father knows how to push my buttons better – and they make me laugh, and cry, and stare at them with amazement sometimes with the wise things they sometimes say unexpectedly. If I am half the mother my own was, they’re going to be great adults. If I never do anything else in this life to be proud of, it doesn’t matter, because these two adorable, gorgeous girls are the most important things I’ve ever done, and that’s enough, I think, for any parent.

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