When I was very young, my parents were part of a hum and strum club. It was the mid-70’s and my mom had the permed, anglo-fro and my dad, the bushy mountain man beard. I remember washbasin plucking, banjo pickin’, my dad strumming his guitar and my mom blowing in her wooden recorder. They were actually really good, at least to my 5-year-old ears.
I could, and still can, sing John Denver, Peter, Paul and Mary and Simon and Garfunkel till the cows come home. Lately, I continue to be reminded of one John Denver song, Grandma’s Feather Bed. Oh how I loved that song. Imagine sleeping with eight kids, four hound dogs and a PIG! Oh and those soft, downy feathers. It sounded like the ultimate sleepover. Did I mention it was 9 feet high? My imagination would explode each time we sang that delightful song, and I giggled and giggled. It was a winner by all accounts.
I’m not part of a hum and strum. My children won’t have longing memories of sitting around singing as a family to amazing folk songs. Classical and jazz at dinner? Check. Dancing on the coffee table, couch and family room floor? Check. Singing loudly and badly in the car, sometimes with the top down? Check. But, not what I had. The mid-70’s were a different era. We didn’t have personal computers, smart phones and high definition TV. We weren’t lost to online games, Netflix and God forbid, Facebook. We actually got kicked out of the house and were told to go play in the woods, alone. GASP.
But, I do have a great, big, soft, king-sized bed. And you know what? It’s mystical and magical. I’m serious. My most meaningful conversations with the children have taken place on that bed. You know those conversations you can’t possibly plan, but are so glad they take place? Yep, those. Right in my bed, snuggled up close. It’s as if that bed magically removes the barriers that prevent real conversations from happening. It removes those fears that prevent my children from asking those serious questions that linger in their minds. Like the time when my son was just 12 and we didn’t just talk about sex, he’d learned about the birds and the bees from me a long time ago, but important, more elusive things like respecting women, locker room talk, protecting a girls’ reputation, and waiting until the right person comes into your life. He trusted me with serious questions and a serious topic. And I got to be a part of helping him untangle the intricacies of life.
Then there are the epic pillow fights and tackle games that take place on that giant 6.3 x 6.6’ soft oasis. When they were little, these times included jumping on the bed and flipping. Yes, I know, I’m one of “those” moms. I won’t have a trampoline in the backyard because I know the dangers, but I will let my children create an obstacle course with furniture in the living room, dance on coffee tables and turn flips on my bed. I was a gymnast, what can I say? Oh and my furniture is made for living, not looking. This time is so fleeting and I say, LIVE.
Back to the pillow fights and tackle games. These epic adventures usually include a few solid smacks to the head with a firm pillow (I have those special ones that weigh a ton), a knee, elbow or sometimes head, jabbed into my body at a weird angle, resulting in a bruise that reminds me of belly laughs and gleeful hollers, and a dog pile in which my breath is literally expelled from my body repeatedly as my daughter runs and jumps on top of her brother, who is, of course, on top of me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And then there is the most sacred of times. The unwind times with my babies snuggled up close, one on each shoulder, fresh from the bath. Turn my head to my left — my son’s long, lean body curled up beside me. Turn to my right — the fresh scent of bubble bath and long tangles that tickle my nose and wet my pillow from my girl. My fingers dance over their bath-warmed skin, still covered in a slight dew. Sometimes, we even fall asleep, curled up together like they are still toddlers. I often lie there, with one tucked into each side, smelling their fresh skin and hair, watching the rise and fall of their chests, running my fingers gently over their bare arms and listening to their soft, gentle breaths as they drift off to dream world. Even now, with my son shaving and 8 inches taller than me and my daughter budding into a young woman who, quite likely, will not want me nearby soon, I treasure those magical moments. Even when I am utterly exhausted and sleep beckons mightily, I stop and take in those snuggles. In less than four years, my son will be away at college. In seven, my daughter. I don’t know how many more snuggle sessions I have left. Bedtime might get extended. I may be part of the walking dead the next day, but I will always have that additional page in my scrapbook of life to reminisce on when my children are grown. Yes, my bed is truly magical. It’s Mimi’s Great Big King-Sized Bed and I love it.