“do you need a hug?”

by eringoodman on March 18, 2009

in essays+reflections, parenting, shifting perspective

As I shared here last week, things have been a little tense in our house lately.


Mama has been fighting a sinus infection while keeping up with writing deadlines as best she can and trying desperately to get a handle on the constant-state-of-clutter that we call home. The kids are in the midst of what we’ve come to recognize as their pre-birthday emotional growing pains. Papa has been dealing with two tired, cranky, due-for-inspection, 10-year old cars, while crunching numbers and trying to make a plan (before our cars make one for us).


Tempers have been short. Voices have been raised. Tantrums have been intense and frequent. And each member of our family has expressed — at the tops of our lungs, through tears, in journals, in whispers, while holding each other — that this just isn’t working and this just isn’t what we want our family to feel like.


And so we’ve been reading. And brainstorming. And journaling. And asking other families for ideas. And trying to take some steps forward out of this muck. Or at least stop struggling and sinking deeper into it.


And I’m truly not sure where this idea came from. I may have read it. I may have dreamed it. An angel may have whispered it my ear.


But one day last week when Quinn was in an all out meltdown and I felt myself getting sucked in and my anger rising, I suddenly softened and looked into his eyes, clearly seeing his pain and sadness and fear. And realized that he was looking to me, his mother, to help him out of this place. To help him back to his Center. And most importantly, to not make things worse by losing my temper.


I took a deep breath and opened my arms, “Do you need a hug, Sweetie?”


“Uh-huh,” he stammered, leaping into my arms.


And we just stood there hugging. Sobbing. Breathing. Loving.


And our world began to shift.


Fast-forward to this morning at breakfast. I mindlessly scooped oatmeal into Quinn’s bowl, without pausing to ask if he wanted to be the excavator (oatmeal scooper) or the dump truck (bowl holder).


He, of course, wanted to be the excavator. And he lost it with the full intensity that an almost-three-year-old can lose it.


I was tired. And distracted by his sister who was starting to lose it because she was cold (but didn’t like the way the sweater I had given her felt). And before I knew it, I was grumbling and slamming things on the table.


And then suddenly. Gently. Softly. In stepped Papa and opened his arms to Quinn.


“Do you need a hug, Buddy?”


And as the tension melted, I grabbed my camera.



Blurry, I know. But I love how this photo captures the peace and beauty that was this moment. 


Ahhhh….yes. This is how we want our family to feel.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Hillary March 18, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Oh Erin I love this story and I love that photo! So sweet. Hubby is looking really handsome all dressed up :-)


Denise March 18, 2009 at 8:47 pm

i can relate to this one. so many times i have yelled at my daughter (youngest) when I should have been holding her and helping her get out of her muck. it requires a high level of patience and lots of love. i’m up for it.


Breeze March 18, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Thank you. Beautiful picture and a post loaded with truth and a great reminder..often they aren’t trying to bother you, they just need a little extra love.



Devon March 18, 2009 at 10:54 pm

This is fabulous, Erin!!! I am so happy for you :)

You know, I bet before you know it the kids will sense YOU getting upset and come up to you asking if you need a hug. And then you will just melt from the awesomeness of it all.


Renee March 19, 2009 at 6:39 am

Beautiful story!


Mama Bird March 19, 2009 at 7:50 am

What a lovely reminder of how simply we can uncomplicate our lives. The power of hugs!


pam at beyondjustmom March 19, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Ah, that’s how I want my family to feel too. Last week, it was I that needed the hug. Thanks for sharing this precious moment with us.


Gina L March 20, 2009 at 7:27 am

Thank you for sharing that, Erin! We can relate so closely right now. Maybe it’s the change in the seasons? The tantrums and chaos are abundant.
Thank you!


Lucia March 20, 2009 at 12:56 pm

I really needed to read this, I can so relate. That was definitely an angel whispering. I will have to do that next time. Kudos to dad!

The excavotor/dump truck scenario had me giggling, :)


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