I hear her long before I see her small silhouette standing in my doorway's shadow. The rat-a-tat-tat of her Bear is her siren song. If I hear it repeatedly, getting louder with each frantic stroke, I know that that she will be awake soon. From my bed, I can picture her laying in her toddler bed. Her body curled around her Bear and a tiny Little Mermaid doll.
I hear the soft thud of her feet as she swiftly plants them on the floor. Her steps are tentative as she slowly makes her way across the darkened hall. Her Bear rattles softly keeping rhythm with her short strides. And then the pitter pat stops. I raise my head off my pillow and see a small figure looming in the dim hallway light. Without my glasses on, I can just make out the outline of her tutu in the darkness. She sleeps most nights with a tutu over her pajamas. If I forget this formality, she will awaken at some point during the night and beg for a tutu so it's become part of her nighttime routine: potty, wash, toothbrush, pajamas and tutu.
Her head looks down. She knows that she should be in her bed. She wants to be big girl, but still longs for the bedtime cuddles that come with crawling into bed with Mommy and Daddy. She quietly steps into my bedroom and slides her body against the wall. I'm fully awake at this point, but I'm also extremely amused by the stealth movements of my toddler. I strain my eyes in the darkness to see what her next move is. Bean slowly slides along the wall, quietly stroking Bear. Her back is rigid against the wall as if she was walking on a ledge, then when she is parallel to the bed, she abruptly drops to the floor.
I hurriedly get my glasses on my face, trying to distinguish Bean's form from the myriad of pillows that litter the floor. I see her, slowly crawling along my side of the bed. She's moving deliberately slow, like a turtle, trying her best not to wake me up. I settle back into my pillow and wait. She's almost here.
And then, like a rocket, Bean blasts up from the floor, cradling Bear in her arms and she casually says "Hi Momma. I love you. I want to cuddle with you."
My heart melts, and I pick her up and lay her next to me. The reason for the cuddle remains a mystery. As much as I said that I'd never let my kids sleep with me, my resolve has disappeared. How long will these cuddles last after all? She barely cuddles with me during the day, and I'm sure this window is brief so I scoop her up in my arms, inhale the lingering smell of baby lotion and kiss her forehead. She holds my hand and we fall asleep together dreaming of princesses and fairies together.