Hug: noun, “an act of holding someone tightly in one’s arms, typically to express affection.”
There are hugs we will never forget: the first cradle of our children, a sofa snuggle with a new love, the last embrace of a dying loved one, or the tight squeeze from a spouse after being apart for a time. These hugs are imprinted in our memories and the human touch can have lasting significance in our lives.
One of the most memorable embraces I have ever received was from a (then) stranger. A mere twelve days after giving birth, I walked into the meeting room of a breastfeeding support group. With hormones all out of whack and a grand total of about 3 hours sleep under my belt, I entered with my emotions running high. It was also the first time I was alone with my baby. Just me and the newborn. I felt naked and vulnerable to new, (and I was certain) judging eyes of the mothers around me. I took a spot tucked away in the corner and tried to look like I knew what I was doing. Not long after my arrival, another novice mother walked up to me. She asked how old my son was and told me how cute he looked. She then looked me in the eyes and asked “how are you doing? Is this your first time here?” I don’t know what came over me, but I immediately dissolved into tears. All I could choke out was “I just don’t know what I’m doing!” This total stranger wrapped me up in her arms and just held me as I cried. Her eyes rimmed with tears too, and she assured me “none of us do! That’s why we’re here!” Her embrace was so warm and comforting, and she made me feel like everything, at least at that moment, was going to be okay. And you know what? It was. As other mothers trickled into the meeting, I saw the same looks of fear, but also the assuring nods that everything was going to work out.
That stranger has become a cherished friend. Along with some other mothers from the group, we have managed to stay connected and see our little ones grow (and even added some siblings to the mix!). Thanks to a stranger’s embrace, I began my healing journey and foray into motherhood. A big thank you to Jackie, Ashley, Leslie, and Sara.
And to Jess.
I don’t know if I’ve ever thanked you for that hug. I’ll never forget it. Thank you.
So if you see another mama struggling, don’t just watch from afar. Say something. Offer a helping hand. Embrace them. You may make a difference.
In the spirit of giving thanks, I would also like to thank:
My husband, Rob. You’re an amazing partner, friend, confidant, and father. I admire so many of your qualities, and 13 years later, I’m still hoping they rub off on me!
My parents, you gave me the greatest childhood and have always believed in me and supported me. Thank you for letting me choose my own path, and never worrying I’d find the right one.
My sister, Mary. I so admire your sense of adventure and confidence. Thank you for always being yourself and not caring what other people think – you inspire me with your bravery every day.
My MOMS Club. Seriously, where do I even begin? I LOVE YOU GALS! Thank you for saving me from myself!
And a BIG thank you to all of the mothers out there – until I became one I always took for granted what a gargantuan responsibility it is to be a mother. Thank you for all being different, teaching us new things, supporting each other through it all, and doing the best job you can – with no training or preparedness!