I lay in bed this morning remembering how it used to be. From the time my daughter could walk or crawl out of her crib, she was an early riser. I could hear the patter of her footed pajamas as she approached my side of the bed, usually with a book in hand. We would snuggle together and I would read one book, or a stack of books, doing all the different voices for the characters. The morning would usually end with a game where she would hide under the covers.
A muffled voice from under the covers would say, “I’m the mailman and you have a package.”
“I didn’t order a package. I wonder what’s inside.” I would poke the lump under the covers which would erupt in a squeal of giggles. We would progress through a series of questions and answers until we discovered what was in the package, which was usually alive, came from the animal kingdom and was hungry. I would have to take a turn and eventually the morning would reach a reasonable hour and I would make her favorite Sunday breakfast: waffles.
Today, I knew I wouldn’t hear any pitter patter of feet. First, her feet are as big as mine and she no longer can enter a room stealthily, she likes making an entrance. Second, she was away for the weekend at a choir retreat. Third, it has been a long time since the idea of “cuddling” with her mom seemed appealing. I’ve had to steal a hug or a peck on the cheek by either offering an incentive, otherwise known as bribing, or coming close to begging, neither becoming to a woman of my age.
When she came home today, I casually said, “I wonder if you missed me as much as I missed you?” She came over and gave me a big smile and hug, and I found myself wondering what her ulterior motive was. I went with the moment. Later I came bearing her favorite foods for lunch. I found her on the family couch watching Tim Gunn from Project Runway, one of our favorite mom/daughter shows. I sat down next to her and she grabbed her pillow and laid her head in my lap. I stroked her hair and talked about how we used to do this a lot. She smiled and I stopped talking. Teenagers don’t like to hear their parents talk. Little by little, she told me about her weekend and I listened. I had a list of things to do: an 8-mile run, syllabus planning for a graduate class I’ll be teaching for winter quarter, dinner planning, and a myriad of household chores. I slowly slid out from under the lounging teenager to get on with my day.
With those two words, I felt like the mailman had delivered me a package that I hadn’t ordered. Being a parent of a teenager, I didn’t ask too many questions. I could give up my run, my academic planning and any household chore for a rare Sunday cuddle with my daughter. A cuddle turned into a nap, the nap was followed by a movie-thon, and the day slipped into evening. So how do you cuddle a teenager? You grab the rare opportunity, keep your mouth shut, have their favorite foods at the ready, and be willing to change plans at a moment’s notice. I guarantee it’s a package worth waiting for.