I think that the little things we do in our day-to-day really speak to our love languages. What really resonated with us may be completely different from what resonated with our spouses, or what our kids said to us may not even be in their memory anymore, but it stuck with us.
As a step-mom, I struggle with finding where I belong and learning what my boundaries are. I have always pretty much cornered my nephews into hugging me before one of us leaves (though I’m not a hugger for anyone other than my husband or some kids). So I’m used to getting kid-hugs. My God daughter runs to me when I see her and is excited to see me and “my guy.” My other God daughter smiles brightly every Sunday morning from her mom or dad’s arms and sometimes lets me hold her. An old family at my church had 4 little kids and each week, 3 of them would come barreling toward me to hug me. I’m used to getting affection from kids.
My boys will sit next to me, they will reach their arms out to get high fives or to play some silly game where I tickle them until it’s almost dangerous (someone might have to get new boxers…), or they’re just stuck. They know they can’t actually reach out and hug me because that would me that we’re huggers. and I think they have decided that it means that I will be in, then. or that they’re betraying their mom if they hug me.
Prince Charming and I took a couple of vacations this summer- work related, but extended for our sake. We road tripped from the mid west down to North Carolina and then flew to Texas for a 48 hour trip. During this time, 12 was also vacationing out of state.. for the first time ever. He left 1 week before we did, and then we were gone for two more weeks, and then HIS trip got delayed another week before coming home! So we went an entire month without seeing 12. He skyped with us a few times and we had him “eat dinner with us” one night, to make things feel more normal. When he came home, our hearts were full again. We missed his nagging and his YouTube videos. Heck, I almost missed washing his dirty socks. We missed him. He came through the door with giant smiles and endless hugs for his dad. He stared at me and I stared back and said, “okay. High five?” We both knew we missed each other. We wanted to hug and squeeze and be excited together, but that would mean we’d moved from this awkward stage to like… a real family. gasp.
So I sucked it up. I held my hand down low for him and took the high-five of a life time.
In the same sense, this is what 8 will do too. I think 8 is still really confused at who I am. Why I’m living there and why his mom and dad won’t ever be a married couple. I think he’ still trying to piece together what our family looks like and why it is different from other kids. 8 will play with me, he will come to me and pull my arms down to my knees and try to get me to listen to him. He will sit by me and read out loud for me, rather than dad. He will ask me for help and ask me to play games with him before he asks anyone else. If I have a blanket wrapped around me, he will snuggle with the blanket but he dares not try with me. This used to cut me so deep. It used to hurt so bad, sometimes it still does.
Sometimes the voice in my head, that I know is straight from Satan, will tell me that these boys will never wrap their arms around me. He tells me that they are afraid to reach out and they’re afraid of me. Satan tries to win. What he doesn’t know is that I’m capable of seeing these little things as victories.
I can see that one year ago, 8 would never have walked up to me and tugged on my hand to go somewhere. I can see that 12 would never have let me pin him down and tickle him until he can’t breathe (he swears he hates it, but there is no possible way he does.) I can see that when we have our after school snacks and get to catch up before Dad comes home, they crave that time. They feel important and it’s because they are important. I can see that they like our routines, just me and them. They look forward to the silly things we do. They like when we scream down the halls for no reason or barge into rooms just to make someone laugh. It really is the little things.
Satan, you can have your hug. I have all of this. I have these boys and I have their love, even if they’re not sure what that means yet. I will continue to fight for them, continue to pray for them and play with them. I will continue to love them and some day, it won’t feel wrong or against the rules. I’ll come home to smiling boys who are grateful for an extra person to love.