It’s Saturday morning and they have nowhere to be. Lainey turns to her husband and curls around his broad, warm back. He will sleep through it. She rests her cheek on his back until it starts to sweat. She rolls away then, wishing he’d wake up but not wanting to be the reason. She looks out the window, hoping the sunshine of spring will be there. Today it is not, rain is dripping off the eaves again.
She lies in the bed and tries to fall asleep but it won’t happen. She is already listening for her sons to cross the kitchen floor on their tiny feet. Nick rolls onto his back. She slips into his crook and with his eyes still shut, he squeezes her to show he feels her there. Then his crook grows hot and she rolls away from him, knowing he hates to be too warm.
She returns to her side of the bed and waits. The boys will wake soon. It is 6:30 a.m. Like clockwork, she hears Warren creak open the bedroom door of the blue bedroom. He will sometimes walk so quietly that he arrives beside the bed and startles her awake. Today she is one step ahead of him, which won’t last long.
He is sleepy and warm and wearing boxers half the size of his father’s. He is 8. Soon he won’t seek her out in the morning. Already, she can feel the cuddles growing shorter, his legs longer, his elbows bonier, pushing her away, not wanting to snuggle her as much nor as long.
This morning she pulls back the blankets and he slides in. She feels relief that today isn’t the day he is done with it. She kisses him on the cheek, the pillow creases there on his face. His chest is smooth, although he’s already checking for hair on it. She pulls him to her in a hug and he hugs back. Nick sleeps.
Warren groans and relents. He will cuddle now and doze next to her. She tries to fall back to sleep but she is waiting for her youngest son’s footsteps now. Usually Nick will pluck him from his bed above Warren’s and carry him in after he’s showered for work. But today no one is going out the door. Joseph will sleep in and make his way over in his own due time.
When he does, he is surprisingly tall. She forgets each night as she sleeps that her baby is no longer a baby. He still has his round baby face but it’s missing a front tooth and he thinks things over and takes toys apart. And his legs are long and strong, like that of a growing boy. And his chest is filling out in fractions. But still she is shocked, every morning.
He always goes to Nick’s side of the bed first to avoid the germs that are his brother. He will climb over the mountain that is his father and snuggle between his mother and father, his favorite place. Lainey will kiss him, and he will submit to one kiss, sometimes two, then put his cheek on offer for everything else. Lainey can’t stand this about him. She would kiss him to pieces but he is a little man, has been from day one, and has never submitted to too many kisses in a row. Joseph rolls on his side, facing away from her. He knows she will curl around his little back, so precise. Lainey suspects it’s only to keep the kisses at bay. But she will take it. He still fits between her arm and the bend of her legs, cupped. He fits perfectly and even he can’t deny that. He is warm and almost sweaty, like his father. She kisses his back; it is salty. She pulls away just a little, hoping to cool him, lest he leave. Joseph keeps her on her toes. Too much and he will leave. Too little and she will go thirsty.
Warren wakes when he hears Joe and lopes his long arm over his mother’s shoulder and snuggles up against her back. They are like three spoons in a drawer. Or maybe, Lainey thinks, a momma cat with her kittens. Warren lifts himself up to kiss her cheek. He has kisses to spare. He spies his little brother curled up and soft and warm and content, but more importantly, with his eyes closed. So Warren kisses him too.
This wakes Joe in a fury.
“Bud!” Joe bellows, although it is lost against his father’s back. “Don’t kiss me!”
Lainey intervenes, “But, Joe, he loves you. You are too sweet not to kiss.”
They’ve had this conversation before.
She quiets the boys and kisses Warren because Joseph won’t. The curve of Warren’s nose is covered now, almost to perfection, with freckles. They are angel kisses from Grandma Judy, she tells him. Angels kiss more when the summer sun comes. She hasn’t thought of a way to explain to Joseph why he has fewer freckles. Maybe because he accepts fewer kisses.
Nick finally quits trying to sleep. Her boys are all awake with her now. They are together and loose and happy. They start to talk, the conversation is easy and slow and pointless. They talk of Star Wars, buying sparklers before July, and of how fat the kitten is getting.
The two cats have joined them. Happy, the gray one, is curled between Nick’s feet. She meows every few minutes to remind them she is not here, in fact, to cuddle, but to be fed. The aforementioned fat one, Milkshake, has climbed and pushed and fallen against everyone long enough that the spoon is over and Lainey is on her back, a boy in each crook. The cat is perched on Lainey’s chest, the boys both petting her. Nick reaches over and rubs her head, harder and harder, until Lainey complains.
“Oh, but she loves it,” Nick says. And she does. They’ve had this conversation before as well.
Lainey misses nothing at moments like this. She wonders if her children will remember these mornings. Lainey thinks probably not. But she doesn’t mind. Because Lainey will remember these moments, these regular everyday ones, as the best of her life.