The Earned Hug

Many years ago when my children were young and I was in counseling to deal with my disintegrating marriage, I complained to my therapist how I was not looking forward to Mother’s Day. From the day my first daughter was born, my husband had never made a big deal about Mother’s Day. I always made sure he had a card and a small present for Father’s Day, and always made a special supper. As the girls grew older, I had them make cards or draw pictures to give to their dad on Father’s Day. But their dad never returned the courtesy to me on Mother’s Day. Oh, he always made sure to remember his own mother and even his grandmother when she was alive. But not me. It stung every year and I hated when the day would come around.

My therapist understood my feelings, but she persuaded me to look at things a bit differently. She told me my two oldest daughters (at that time they were in their early teens) were old enough to understand the meaning of Mother’s Day and they ought to do something on their own to honor me on that day. I agreed with her that my daughters were old enough, but I argued that their dad had never modeled honoring me so why should they? Very gently she replied and told me that perhaps my children didn’t need such courtesy or honoring modeled for them. Instead she suggested that perhaps I hadn’t earned to be honored on Mother’s Day.

Her words hit me as hard as if she had slapped me in the face.

Never in my wildest thoughts would I have landed on the idea that I hadn’t earned the right to be honored on Mother’s Day! My God! I had four daughters! And I was an at-home mom, providing everything they needed. Why shouldn’t I be treated special on that day?!

The therapist’s words stung and stuck with me ever since. I’m happy to say my children grew older and, on their own initiative, began to make sure I was acknowledged in some way each Mother’s Day and on my birthday. And every time they do, I am always reminded of that conversation with my therapist. I smile outwardly and inwardly. It feels wonderful to be recognized and it feels so rewarding to know I earned it.

I thought about all of this a couple of weeks ago when I went to visit my oldest daughter at her house. She and her family have been dealing with some pretty stressful things for a few months and they just can’t seem to catch a break. I gave up a Saturday to go visit them, and to help my daughter get caught up on many chores. Of course the added perk was that I would get to see my two grandchildren. I haven’t seen them since right after New Year’s.

As it turned out, my daughter and granddaughter were not at home when I arrived. Kate had taken four-year-old Eve to urgent care for an ear infection. So I visited with my eighteen-month-old grandson who clung to his dad every time I even thought of glancing his way. We went about our chores and sometime later Kate and Eve returned home. Eve came in the house and didn’t see me at first. But then she did. She ripped off her coat and shoes and ran as fast as she could to me and threw her arms around me in as big a hug as any four-year-old can give. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.

I’d like to bottle the emotion I felt in that moment.



One thought on “The Earned Hug

  1. That counselor should have lost her license that day! Either she wasn’t a Mom or was a terrible therapist to ever say something like that in therapy. PERIOD. This kind of behavior would never build up someone’s self-seteem.

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