Mom, I’m leaving now.” My son hesitated at the door, his backpack flung over his shoulder.
Wow, he’s waiting for me. He actually wants a hug.
It had been a wake-up call, a two-by-four moment. Bam! I felt the jolt of the invisible board hit me right upside my head. Listening to the radio, I heard the voice of wisdom. “Continue to hug your teenagers even if they act like they don’t want to be bothered or could care less.” That caught my attention. I began to ponder.
When did I stop hugging him, Lord? I don’t remember the last time I reached out and touched him.
Physical affection doesn’t come naturally to my mother, to her mother or to me. I come from a long line of stoics. Proud of our abilities to suck up the tears and pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, we keep moving on, no matter what comes our way.
But I couldn’t ignore the voice of wisdom. “Teenagers need hugs and physical affection from their parents at this time in their lives now more than ever.”
So where do I begin, Lord? How do I begin? He’ll think I’m nuts if I just start hugging him. To be honest, I’m frightened he’ll reject me.
I had grown weary of his apathetic attitude and struggled not to take his eye-rolling personally. All of the intellectual reasoning in the world could not take the sting out of his constant displays of rejection.
I don’t think I’m up for the task, Lord. Oh, help! But I made a decision. I took the challenge.
It was just another morning to my son, but to me it was the day I was altering the course of my family’s history. “Luke, I’d like to hug you each morningbefore you leave for school,” I told him. “I know you may not like it, and it may feel awkward, but I really want you to know just how much I love you.”
He looked at me. His eyes circled in their sockets. His shoulders shrugged, and apathy oozed from his pores.
Ugh! This isn’t going to be easy, Lord.
I reached toward him. He stood still. As I embraced him, his body stiffened.
My goodness, a tree trunk would feel more inviting, I thought. This is going to be harder than I imagined.
Discouraged but determined, I made a commitment to myself to continue the hug “tree-tment” each morning.
Each day began with one goal in mind: hug that teenager before he gets out the door. Many times I had to stop him from whizzing right by me, reeling him back so I could establish my tree-hugging routine.
But slowly I began to notice a subtle response.
Was that a squeeze back I just detected? Did I really feel a touch?
Then one morning, I was distracted from my goal. While emptying the dishwasher I heard a “hmm.” I looked up. There he stood, slouched against the door jamb with his backpack hanging off his shoulder.
Does he have a cold? I wondered. But wait. I was wrong. He was waiting for me. He was waiting for a hug! And his momma was willing to oblige.
Oh, I was elated! My diligence had paid off. The voice of wisdom was right. I sauntered around the kitchen counter, trying to pace myself, resisting the temptation to tackle him and overwhelm him with my boundless joy. I put my arms around him and received one of the most precious hugs of my life.
I peered out the window as he walked to his car and slid into the driver’s seat. As he drove away, I could not contain my excitement any longer. With the voice of a sports announcer, I bellowed as I pulled my fist down through the air, “Yes! She hugs, she scores!”
What a way to start the day. Thank you, Lord.
Months passed. The hugs continued. Then Christmas brought a new puppy to our family, a bundle of black fur and energy that needed to be taken to the backyard each morning. That somehow became my job.
I stood outside one morning in January while our puppy busied himself at my feet. Suddenly, my son bounded down our deck stairs and headed toward his car.
I heard his car door slam, but then it opened again. I looked up to see him standing at the entrance to our backyard, a smile on his face. Waiting once again. Waiting for me. I smiled back as I scooped up the little fur ball and headed toward my son with a big hug waiting to be unleashed.
He got out of his car, Lord. He stopped what he was doing—all for a hug.
I vowed to never again question the value of a hug to my teenage son. The voice of wisdom was right, and I was glad I had listened.