A hug takes but a second. But that is hard for a big brother to understand, let alone tolerate. And she is tormenting him. Mercilessly. Arms wrapped around his waist in a vice-grip. He allows her for but a moment longer, and then I can see that he’s had enough. He says something smart- words that might sting if not interrupted with another distracting thought or action. She runs out of the room, looking for another body to touch. To cling to. To tease.
What a little monkey.
But there are no takers. Everybody’s just too busy tonight. Nobody is interested in bending over for a hug. A snuggle- a squeeze. I stand there at the sink and I take it all in.
“C’mere,” I say. “I’ll hug you.” She runs into my arms. And then we hold each other for a few short minutes.
“How come you never ask me for a hug? ” I then say, after we’ve both had our quiet moment of loving one another. “Why don’t you ever want to hug me?”
“You’re never there…you’re always too busy, she says simply, without flourish.
I feel slightly stung. I am the mother. I should be good at this by now, four kids later. And she, the baby. I should be the one she runs to first. Shouldn’t I?
But truth: often I’m not. And she’s right- I am too busy some of the time. Cleaning, cooking, nagging- you know the drill. And to be honest, sometimes- I just don’t have the energy. The gumption’s gone
But a hug takes just a second.
We walk, she clasping my neck while I make my way into the formal sitting area where the fireplace in winter often cozies the room with warm embers and soft glow. I sink into a chair, and she leans into my chest. We re-adjust- she’s bigger now than I last remember. I have to hold her differently to make it work. But we can do this. Because a hug takes just a second. One, two counts- and the moment is over. And she’s gone again- off to do what six-year old’s like to do best. At any given moment.
And yet- tonight. Right now- I am so glad I took the time. So glad I held her close this evening. After all, a hug takes but a second.
I am like most mothers eternally busy. I have lots to do, and then some. I often leave myself to the very last, so lately I’ve been focused on reclaiming the vestiges of my former myself. Which is to say, I am all for moms getting perspective. Something I haven’t always been good at doing myself. I am all for moms who also know when pulling back and letting go is the best choice. And I am all for moms who don’t take themselves too seriously- who don’t try too hard to be perfect and who accept themselves for who they are, warts and all. I am all for mothers who are ‘people’ first. Who love who they are and are proud to chase their dreams.
Because sometimes we mamas just get lost in this parenting gig- and we wake up twenty-five years later and wonder who we are. We wonder: what’s our purpose now?
I am not for that kind of mothering.
And yet. Sometimes in justifying and then accepting my mothering status as ‘good enough’, I forget that we mamas can never really quite ‘get enough’ of these precious growing up days- these moments, these years. They are fleeting. Momentary. They are ever so fragile and brief. And while I realize I have limits and boundaries around what I can and cannot do- a hug takes but a second. A smile is just a breath. A kiss is but a instant.
And then it’s gone.
When I remember it just like this, that all our moments are just precious slips of eternity, then it’s more than doable: it’s magic. Getting enough of all those little moments is what we live for. It’s what makes those other less than stellar moments of our day all the more vivid and real. It makes our life less a project and more a story. Because each moment then becomes a piece of the puzzle. A tile in the mosaic.
These are the days of our lives, these living years. They are what really count- they are the big picture.
May we never forget to seize the little opportunities in life that make all the difference.