Mom, do you need a hug?”

Our kids say the “darnedest” things, to be sure. But this question from my four year old was so profound and unbelievably well-timed that it transcended simple cuteness. I’m not sure there is anything sweeter than a little face framed with dirty blond curls saying in so many words, ” I SEE YOU, Mama”.

My son has wisdom far beyond his years in this way. He truly does see people. Tell him your back is hurting just a bit and he’ll somehow remember to ask you three weeks later how it’s doing. He just notices things. (This is an amazing quality, but it can also be a little unnerving as a mother. Secretly, I really hope to go unnoticed when I’m having a “cranky day”, as we like to call it around here.)

But nonetheless, I have an exceptionally perceptive son, and despite my best efforts to push through when I was having a rough day, he took notice of my weariness. I had just finished cooking dinner for everyone. It was one of those dinners where you think you’re just going to “throw something together”  but instead end up feeling like you’re on a Reality Cooking Gameshow.

OK We’ll just throw some sauce on this pasta and we’re good to go….Shoot. We don’t have any tomato paste. How am I going to make marinara sauce with no tomato paste? I was just at the store, why didn’t I pick some up? Stupid tomatoes. Can I even make marinara now? It’s going be too watery…how can I thicken this? This isn’t fun anymore. Can we just order pizza? Boy do I wish I had a personal chef. He’d know what to do. Cooking is hard.

A glance in the refrigerator…sour cream, cucumbers, coconut milk, week-old soup, and spinach.

“Could spinach go in here? Can you put spinach in marinara sauce? I don’t see why not…”

Next thing I know I’m googling “spinach /marinara recipe”…because I just want to see if it exists. I’m not going to FOLLOW the recipe (I’m  just throwing a dinner together remember?) But if I can at least know something like this exists, then it affirms that what I’m about to do isn’t completely crazy.

Ok. How’s that going to look? I think this might work…Now, where’s my spoon? Wow, it’s 7:30 the kids are supposed to be in bed. Oh man, I didn’t even boil the water for the pasta yet. Do we have any garlic? Where did my knife go? Oh I have so much to do tonight…have to clean the house, get my bible study homework done….Oh shoot I never called that guy about the thing. Whoops, burning the sauce. Ok, now where did I put the sausage? Oh no, I have to defrost it. Wow, what I wouldn’t give to just go lie down for just ten minutes right about now…”

I did finally serve dinner – at 8 o’clock. And it was one of those dinners where if someone even DARED to complain, they were going to get Calm Mommy, which is even scarier than Mean Mommy. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s when you have absolutely no energy left for arguing, nagging, or imploring your kids, so instead you end up parenting in such a way that I suspect might actually be correct. In a calm voice, you sweetly say:

“I’d like you to leave the table now.”

“Um. What?”

“I SAID I’d like you put down your plate and to leave the table now. You can come back when you decide you have something nice to say about the VERY creative and almost NOT dinner I just made for you. That’s all. Leave now, please. Thank you.”

For them it’s like an eerie movie as you quietly take a bite of your dinner and move on to talk to the other kids. They know mommy is on her last leg when she parents with that sort of confidence.

BUT I’m happy to say that my kids did NOT complain. The sauce turned out WONDERFULLY (I highly recommend spinach in marinara!) and my kids devoured their dinners. It was all very pleasant and blew just enough wind into my sails to keep going . The evening was actually turning out to be pretty nice. When we moved over to the living room for stories with Daddy, that’s when I heard my son say those beautiful words.

Now if he had said those words to me right after a cranky mommy episode, I would have felt too guilty to even enjoy the hug. But he didn’t. He said it at the end of the long day, when all was well….and when I needed it most.

It was just my son being my son. And one of the things I absolutely love most about him. He forces me to be perceptive as well, because it wasn’t until I wrapped my arms around his tiny little body and tears welled up in my eyes that I realized the answer was-

Yes I do.”

I don’t know why some days in motherhood are harder than others. Why sometimes it can suddenly feel like the world is spinning a tiny bit faster and everything is breaking at the joints. Why life gets so untamed. Suddenly the weights are heavier and the stakes are higher, and it feels like something is just waiting to erupt, but you just can’t quite figure out where the leak is. Suddenly, not having any tomato paste is cause to fight back tears.

Blame it on hormones if you want to – I usually do.

But in those moments, I think the truth is that we all just really need a hug. And as much as I want to be Jesus to my kids, many times it’s the other way around. They are Jesus to me.

It is a rare gift when someone chooses to SEE YOU – really SEE YOU – in the midst of all of your best efforts to keep it together. Of course, my son doesn’t see everything, as a four year old shouldn’t. But he reminded me of something very important.

Jesus does.

When you need a hug, you need a hug. Period. There’s no shame in that. There’s no shame in growing weary, tired, or exhausted. There’s no shame in feeling like you’ve hit your limits. We all have limits. There’s no shame in being vulnerable and admitting that life is feeling a little scary right now for some reason. Like it got too big for you, and you’re not grown up enough for it.

Maybe you just need a hug. A hug can go a long way. And a hug from Jesus goes on forever.

Call me crazy, but it felt like Jesus himself sent that hug to me through my son. When you get what you need just when you need it most, I dare say He’s always behind it. Nothing in life is a coincidence. Afterall James 1:17 tells us that “every perfect gift comes from God”. And isn’t it interesting that just a few verses before this we’re told that “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation”?

So to all of you feeling a little tired or worn out this week:

Jesus sees you.

Isaiah 49:15 says, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” He compares his love for us like that of a nursing mother and her child – and says His love is even greater.  What a beautiful truth.

Sometimes we all need to be like little children and cuddle up in the lap of God. So this week, may you let yourself be little enough to be hugged.  He loves it when His children come to him, weak and weary. And He promises to bring us rest.

Hang in there all you Mommas and expect God’s love to find you this week. Until then, I’m sending internet hugs your way :)


3 Responses to “Jesus Hugs”

  • Angi:

    I love this! Especially the part about just crawling up to God like a child! And you’re so right the calm mommy is way scarier than mean mommy!!

  • Annie:

    Thank you. I needed this today!

  • dora:

    Awesome, just awesome! I have 3 kids and I have had many such days! I too have googled recipes to be sure it exists or something comes close to my concoctions! I laughed when I read that you do that :), I am not alone!LOL!
    Today was one of those days when my two older kids pushed all the wrong buttons, my 2 year old was well behaved though. I think she felt my sadness. In her little way she cheered me up with her hearty laugh. It was like a Jesus hug :)

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Missional Women