When will be the last time my son gives me a hug?
Oh, I’m sure there will come a time, after the difficult, alienated teenage years, when he’s an adult and he gives me a perfunctory hug when we are saying hello. Times when he gives me a quick embrace to celebrate a birthday, perhaps, or a wedding.
But when will be the last time he throws himself into my arms to show me how much he loves me? When will be the last time he curls up next to me on the couch, so we can watch TV together, entwined into one being? When will be the last time he runs to me for solace, knowing Mommy’s arms will make it all better?
He’s turning seven next week. Seven seems old. It seems big. He’s already so tall, so mature, so thoughtful. So grown-up.
But he’s still content to let me call after him that I love him when I drop him off at school. He still likes it when I get there in time to be the parent who helps with skates for gym class. He still wants me to sing him to sleep at night.
And he still wants the hugs.
The other day, I was doing the dishes and he came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. Just a little moment when he needed a little reassurance; just a moment when he saw me there and felt the overwhelming need to be close to me.
The other night, as I was putting him to bed, he asked me to stay a little while. He had a cold and was feeling achy and tired and lonely. I nestled in tight, and soon the warmth and comfort of having his mother next to him caused his breathing to go deep, and he slept in peace.
But I know it won’t last. I know there will come a time when he needs me, but has to act like he doesn’t. A time when he wants my help, but also wants to be his own man, to branch out, to grow.
I’ve waited so long for him to get just a little bit bigger, a little bit more independent. To make my life easier by taking care of himself every once in a while. But now that that day is fast approaching, I find I really want the opposite. I want to hang on to him longer. Keep him close.
Keep on hugging him, as much as possible.
Every time we snuggle up together, every time he gives me a kiss goodnight, I wonder now… was that the last time? Will tomorrow be the end? Will it be next week that he’s all grown up?
So I grab my hugs whenever I can, and hope that when the day comes, it’s been enough. For both of us.