Friday, January 17, 2014

Dear Son: I Pledge To Hug You Like It's the Weekend Every Day

I would never call myself glamorous or particularly high maintenance when it comes to personal style. And while I gave up such grooming habits like eyebrow waxing and pedicures when I turned 40 (and in the process saved $500 and 30 hours a year), I do still find  comfort and confidence in a simplified beauty regimen that consists of a 60-second make-up ritual of Mac Studio Fix powder (it took this brown girl 20 years to find the perfect complexion, don't judge), some black eyeliner, and a quick application of lipstick.  So when a six-year old boy with sticky syrup face comes at me for a morning hug before I head off to a board meeting, my response has consistently been, "Let's go wash your face first, dear" (a.k.a. the "conditional hug"). Painful as it may be to admit, often times, even when there's no syrup, I only offer up the "restrained" hug.  You know the kind where you hold them back gently, adeptly controlling the embrace so that their faces land perfectly on your shoulder (but not on your neatly pressed, stain-free blouse) rather than your face, thus perfectly preserving the beautiful make-up that you just painstakingly applied.  I justify this all in my mind by telling myself, I don't want to leave lipstick marks on his precious face or get any of my Mac Studio Fix on his school clothes.

Of course on the weekends it's utterly magnificently different.  When my son, Jack awakes to hear the sounds of me typing away on my laptop, he runs to the top of the stairs, and I meet him at the bottom.  We then throw our hands out towards one another with dramatic flair and embrace in a full-fledged make-up free, "weekend special" extended hug.  The kind where he buries his (sometimes boogery and slobbery) face in the crook of my neck and I breathe in the baby scent that he still hasn't shed.  He then grabs my au natural face with both of his hands and plants the world's worst morning breath kiss on my lips, and we embrace again.  This time with me burying my face in the strands of his wild morning mop of a head.  It is indeed magnificent and one of my most soul-gratifying moments of motherhood.  One that I know I will long for deeply, when he has left our nest.

And then one day it suddenly occurred to me.  Considering that I'm usually headed out to work 240 out of 365 days of the year, by the time my son graduates high school, I will have given him 4080 conditional or restrained morning hugs, but only 2125 weekend specials.  And so my board of directors always gets a fresh-faced, not-a-hair-out-of-place, wrinkle-free, "confident" employee, and my only offspring, gets to choose between a "conditional" hug or a "restrained" hug.     

So dear boy, from this day forward - for the remaining 12 years that we will share a home, I pledge to always accept without fear, your stickiest syrup face.  Even on those days that I'm headed to important meetings.  I pledge to leave Mac Studio Fix remnants on your pristine school clothes and random faint lipstick marks on your precious face, as long as you will allow me to do so.  I pledge - for every single remaining day that we are gifted to wake up to one another - to hug you with no conditions....and with no restraints. To give you the weekend special every day.   After all, a little syrup never killed anyone, but regret and jumbled priorities, just might.

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