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When My Husband Reminded Me Cuddling My Children Is Important as a Chronically Ill Mom


I have had conversations with my husband many times about how I wish I could do more for my children. I take them to all of their appointments to give them a better chance at life than I had. I research endlessly about nutrition and education. I am not always able to be present physically. The days are fewer than I would like to admit where I do more than sit on the couch and cuddle while they play games. Sometimes I read a few books or play games with them. Sometimes all I can manage is finding the easiest and most nutritional food to quickly put together, so they can watch a show while I rest. Once in awhile I can jump, play and pretend to fight the bad guys with them, but it’s not as often as I’d like.

Here’s how one of our recent conversations went:

“I am failing my children,” I said to my husband over dinner.

He gave me a look I know all too well when he feels I have said something nonsensical. “How are you failing our children?” He asked.

“I’m not as present as I want to be. I just don’t have the energy to play with them much or take them on adventures.” 

“What do you do with them?” He asked.

“Not much. I mostly just cuddle with them.” 

His face lights up. “Exactly. You cuddle them,” he continued when I give him an exasperated look.”Babies die without cuddles.”

“Babies die?” I asked in disbelief.

“Babies who are only fed and changed, but never cuddled…die,” he said.

“Am I screwing up our children by not being more present right now?” 

“No,” he replied.

“Will I be able to fix this when I’m better and can be more present for them later? Will it make a difference?” 

“Yes,” he said.

“So I can fix this?” 

“Yes. You can fix this,” he said with a smile, grabbing my hand.

My husband reminded me that I am showing our children that self-care is important. I am showing them how to advocate for their needs. I am teaching them valuable life skills that will carry on with them for life such as empathy, compassion, kindness and patience. Best of all, they always know I’ll come back for cuddles. No matter how sick I feel or how angry we are at each other, I always come back for cuddles.

Without cuddles, baby die. I may not feel like I do many things right (though my husband insists I do), but at least I have this right — cuddles are important.

Photo credit: diignat/Getty Images