Parenting Is Tough…But The Hugs Are Worth It

Parenting is tough. Tougher than any corporate job I’ve ever had. The baby stage is hard. Until you don’t have it anymore. The toddler stage is hard.  Until you don’t have it anymore. The little kid and tween stages are hard.  Until you don’t have them anymore. The teen years are hard. Until you don’t have them anymore.  If we are lucky we get to raise our kids to be full grown adults and maybe, just maybe, we can be friends at that point.    Every stage of parenting is hard until you get through it. Then it becomes easier  to remember the good times more than the bad and it just doesn’t seem that hard anymore. 

Today my 13 year old son came over to me and hugged me.  He said, “Mom, thanks for taking care of me today.”  You see, he had minor oral surgery this morning. This teenager who is  now taller than me, who has his own opinions, who is trying to figure out who he is, and loves to test my sanity at times recognized that he needed and actively received help from his momma.

In that single moment of a hug his entire life flashed through my mind. It was like I was reliving his entire existence on fast forward and it was glorious. Then I thought, I would live at least one hundred more hard days just to get that hug that tells me that we must be doing something right as parents. I mess up a lot as a parent, but today I got it completely right and all I did was make a comfortable space for him to lie down on, ensure his pain was managed, and make soft comfort foods for him to eat. He was thankful and showed it the very best way he knew how; with a hug. That hug said it all and for that, this momma is grateful.

The moral of the story? Don’t underestimate the power of hugs. Especially hugging your children. Give hugs and take hugs through every stage of life with your kids. All stages are tough but hugs will help you make it through. I don’t promise you that it will be easy on the days where you are bone tired, but it will be worth it. I promise. As your kids grow they may not initiate hugs like when they were little. Warning: You may not be “allowed” to do this in public for a few years. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m told public signs of affection become okay again somewhere around the 19th birthday. I’m a few years away from that so I can’t make any promises to you yet. Still, give them as many hugs as possible. With a hug you receive just as much as you give. How many hugs will you give today?

Proverbs 3:3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

To “My People, My Tribe, My Whatever You Want to Call It”

It’s been 4 months since I wrote my first blog post. It’s not that I haven’t thought about logging in. It’s more that I just didn’t think I had much to say. Today is different. My heart and mind are so full that I’m almost overwhelmed. I am inspired by a podcast titled “For the Love With Jen Hatmaker”, specifically episode 1 “Savoring Your Friendships”.

In this first episode the host and her dear friend reminisce of how they became friends and how they have learned to nurture their friendship. They also discuss the importance of making time to connect with other people. This has inspired me because for so long I have told my husband, “It’s easier for guys to hang out with friends and find things to do.”. For example, golf league and basketball. It isn’t easier for guys, that’s just been my excuse. I’ve had this picture in my mind of how I’m supposed to be or the things that need to be in order to invite a friend over for coffee or dinner. Let’s not forget the “mom guilt”. You know what I mean. That little voice inside your head that tell you that you can’t do something because you should be doing something or making something 24-7 with your kids. Yeah…I hear that voice too. What I learned from this podcast is that it’s ok to let it go and just be present. I learned that friendships, like marriages, take work.

Now you might be thinking that I’m a little all over the place in this post. You’re right but that’s how my brain navigates life. This is where my full to overflowing heart of happiness and joy comes.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the day with a very dear friend of mine. I have known this friend since elementary school and we officially have been friends for 24 years (since the age of 13). We navigated side-by-side through jr. high and high school together. We went to different colleges but still remained intact as “best friends”. As we entered into adulthood we did it together but we ever so slowly began to drift apart little by little.

One day a few years ago I looked back and became saddened by the realization that I didn’t know my best friend anymore. I carry the blame for this as I realize I became lazy in our friendship. I became so consumed with myself that I didn’t make time to reach out and connect. We were in different stages of life and instead of cherishing this about our friendship, I unintentionally let it push us apart.

So how did we go from the occasional letter or text to spending the day together? We did it slowly and with humility. My friend showed me the grace that I had yet to show her many years ago. I will forever be thankful that we have reconnected and have begun to share our lives together again. The best is yet to come. How do I know this? I know this because at the age of 37 years old, driving down I-71 on our way to a day spa I found myself crying with tears of laughter as we discussed everything from work to kids to husbands. It’s like there hadn’t been a day gone by since we were 17 and getting ready for dance team together.

I share my story of reconnection because as human beings we need other people. Whether we realize it or not we need to surround ourselves with people that not only care about and love us but that we care about and love as well. Although I embrace being on the “hot mess express” I still feel the need to want to hide this from others. As in “my house is too messy to invite the neighbor over for coffee” or “I want to get these non-critical errands done so I can finish off my task list”. Guess where these perfection striving thoughts get me? If you guessed “nowhere” then you would be correct. (Thank you Jen Hatmaker and Shauna Niequist for reminding me of this.) I’m a list maker and get sheer joy from crossing things off of my “to-do” list so I’ll always have a list laying around. What I won’t always have are the left behind moments that I didn’t choose to share with other people.

Our world is so full of negativity that it is up to us to bring positivity into our own lives and share it with others. We aren’t meant to be alone but we do have to put the effort in. Who cares if you have 19 baskets of laundry? Call your friend and invite her over for coffee. Dollars to donuts (donuts go good with coffee) her house has laundry to be folded too. What really matters is the connection we make and share together. This connection is what makes the happy times happier and gets us through the tough times. When it’s really bad our people help pull us through, even if we are kicking and screaming.

My people, my tribe, my “whatever you want to call it” range in age and life stages but they are so very precious to me. I love them all and will protect these relationships over my “to do” list. Take the time to show your people that you are thankful and grateful for having them in your life. Reach out to your people near or far and spend time with time or at least let them know how much they mean to you. Whether you choose phone, video chat, text, email or invite them over to dinner do it today because tomorrow is never promised. And to “my people”…thank you for the joy and kindness you bring into my life. You are cherished.