A Hug is Better than Ice Cream

Today was one of those days when, for no apparent reason, I just didn’t feel like doing anything, and I was cranky. After running some errands that I could not put off this morning, I came home to a sink full of dirty dishes, a pile of dirty clothes in the laundry room, toys strewn all over the house and a stain that needed scrubbing out of the carpet. The more I thought about doing those chores the less and less I wanted to. What I really wanted was to just be left alone on the couch all day with a pint of Cherry Garcia and my TIVO.

Of course my two-year-old son had other ideas. Just as I sat down on the couch, remote in hand, my son pleaded, “Play with me Mommy.” The last thing I wanted to do was get down on the floor and push Matchbox cars across the stain I should be cleaning. I could ignore all the household chores, but I couldn’t play hookie from my Mommie job. Try it and the job just follows you around, clinging, whining and looking at you with a sad face. So I grudgingly peeled myself off the couch, and mustered as much enthusiasm as I could while my son rammed his little car into mine over and over yelling, “Bang! Crash! Bang!” I guess I didn’t do a very good job of faking my interest, because after a few minutes of this he stopped playing and said, “Mommie, you O.K.? Mommie, you need a hug.” He crawled up on my lap, put his little arms around my neck and squeezed as hard as he could. “I love you, Mommie,” he whispered in my ear.

How many times had this scene played out in reverse? Me scooping my son up in my arms, hugging him, reassuring him with love when he got hurt, was sick or frustrated with trying to learn a new skill. Now he sensed my melancholy and was comforting me. He loosened his grip looked at me and asked, “You feel better now?” And I did. I really did. His simple act of affection chased away my grumps.

It was strange to me, this role reversal, but so sweet. At almost three my son is just learning to feel empathy. I’ve tried to teach him to be thoughtful and understanding of others. During those lessons I never thought I might be the one to benefit. What a gift he gave me with that hug and those words. It did more for me than all the sweet, creamy goodness of Ben and Jerry’s ever could, and it didn’t go straight to my thighs. It also reminded me how important a simple act of kindness or affection can be to a person. Thanking a tired store clerk and not lambasting her when she can’t find the sale item in stock that your want, embracing your husband after he’s had a bad day at work, telling your kid you think he’s great after his team lost can change the outlook of their entire day.

We played a little longer and I really enjoyed the rest of my time with my son and his little cars. He went off to play on his own, and I found the will to tackle those dishes and the laundry. I got him to help me pick up the toys that were all over, and I even got the stain out of the carpet. When he went down for his nap I still got my time on the couch catching up on the Office and Ugly Betty. The only thing missing was the ice cream. I need to find my grocery list…

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One Response to “A Hug is Better than Ice Cream”

  1. Flick Says:

    so sweet!!!! that made me cry!

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