the story of the hug.

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it’s been a couple of crazy days over here! i’ve felt probably every emotion in the book over the past 72 hours and for the record, i wouldn’t recommend it. :) with the start of a new school year, getting the kids situated and comfortable, and all that entails, it feels like it really takes a toll. and i’m not the one going back to school! we’re also still surrounded by a whole lotta unpacked boxes in the new apartment and i forgot how long it takes to get things properly unpacked and situated. besides the move, we don’t have a kitchen in the new place right now, like at all. it’s a long story, but we are making some minor changes to the kitchen and it feels like everything that could go wrong or get delayed has gone wrong and been delayed.  and then there’s a project josh and i have been working on the past several months, which we are beyond excited to see finally coming together, although i do feel it’s been the main culprit of my emotional rollercoaster these last few days, because we’re coming up on deadlines for it. and not to keep going, but… i’m having this knee issue where the pain is starting to really grow bothersome and they don’t know what’s wrong with it yet (on top of a few other health issues)…i only share this, to say, while i do feel like i often thrive on the challenge of conquering crazy motherhood and a crazy business and life and the chaos that ensues, i’ve noticed that sometimes (read: the majority of the time), it takes a toll on not just things like my skin or sleep cycle, but it really effects how i interact with my loved ones and when i’m overwhelmed, i find myself being less patient with my children and husband, raising my voice more than i’d like, forgetting how lucky and fortunate i am in the grand scheme of things, and just all around not as fun or playful of a person in all of my different rolls. and that frustrates me even more because it’s like, “uuuggghh. no no no! i need a redo! i don’t want to be this person!” which in turn stresses me too and makes me even less patient…

and then, i found something the other day that seemed to be the cure for my emotional roller coaster of feelings which bring out the stress levels in full force sometimes.

and it sounds so silly. and kind of like, “well, duh.” but i’m going to tell you anyways. because when i did it for the first time the other day, i swear i felt like i had just discovered a magic potion.

it was a hug.

a deliberate hug.

a hug when i didn’t really have time to give a hug, and the receiver (one of my children), didn’t really necessarily need a hug either. but i kid you not, it brought me back. it was a hug that spoke to me. that reminded me of what matters most in this life and what doesn’t. and it relieved all my stress, frustration and negative thoughts in a wonderful way.

and so i’ve continued to practice it in my most desperate of moments over the course of the past few days.

me, kneeling down at any given moment during the day. at any place, be it our apartment or the corner of a street….when impatient me, or mad me, or frustrated or tired or negative thoughts me wants to party….me, kneeling down and pausing life and my brain to pull my babies in close and just hug them.

it’s ironic, because i feel like we are a rather affectionate family already, and give hugs and kisses and cuddles on the daily. holding hands with my babies as we adventure around the city is the norm. it’s not like there is lack of physical affection over here. but i suppose it’s not in anyone’s immediate thought process to squeeze your loved ones closer when you’re growing frustrated with them, or when you’re in your own head being your toughest critic. maybe it is and i’m just late to the game, and gosh! that sucks to be just finding this out in my third decade of life. either way, i’m onto it now, and it’s not something i’m letting go of anytime soon.

life is crazy. for all of us. we walk such different paths but we all feel similar emotions at many points during the process. and we all process or work through things differently, too. but, you guys! a hug! when your kids are giving you a hard time getting out the door for school because their shoe lace feels weird and you’re late and you wanna just be mad and be like, “i’ll fix it later!!!! let’s gooooooo!” i mean. i don’t have all the answers here, but i went for the hug this morning instead and it kind of changed everything for both of us. when your thoughts are going 100 miles per hour about everything you need to get done and haven’t, and you start beating yourself up because you don’t feel you’re enough, i tried the hug again there today and it also helped, a lot.

maybe it’s the scent of my babies. maybe it’s the fact that holding them close just feels really really good. or maybe it’s because they are the most important, most prized and special and beautiful things i have in my life. they are what matter most for me, and everything else is absolutely second. it’s like the hug has secret powers to reenergize, to motivate you to get those things done or carry on in a loving way because you’re doing it for them. i really don’t have the answer. all i know is, the hug is where it’s at. and i’ve given like, 697 of them today.

while my kids and husband will probably tell you i still wasn’t their favorite person to be around these past 72 hours, i do swear these said hugs helped me so very much on my end to make me feel a little more tolerable, loving, patient, kind, grateful, happy.  they brought me incredible joy, grounded me in all the right ways and reminded me of what i value and love most in life: my loved ones who just happen to give really really really good hugs. :)

  1. Janet

    Love this…I had a bishop tell me once, that when I was struggling the hardest to hug my children until it passed. Those words helped me in my every day and then years later, when my husband left our family and the gospel. There were very hard days…but hugs, love and affection helped heal what could have been miserable. Another thing I learned in those young back to school days was the power of music to calm the house and how reading even one verse each day and having family prayer changed everything. Both of my angels are now in college and every single night they still call to have family prayer. Thank you for being so open…hugs and prayers that life smooths out for you ;)

  2. Naomi, This post is one of my faves from the past several months. It’s real life. Life is not always trips, and fun, and good food (for most people at least;) And this gave me a glimpse into the real you. It also gave me motivation to hug my boys who are way older (14 & 9)…they may not want that many hugs, but they need them as much as I do. Have a lovely day:)

  3. Pingback: the story of the hug. – parenting.newspaperperiod.com

  4. ans

    very similar thoughts here… after a ‘there is something in my shoe’ and ‘papa needs to brush my teeth’, the only thing i could think of was ‘come on, we need to hurry’. hopefully next time that happens, i’ll just go for the hug instead! xx

  5. Brenda

    I’m right there with you! It feels like I’ve felt every emotion in the book recently too. I will give The Hug (yep, I just capitalized it!) a try when life seems too much. I’m sure my husband and little boy (14 months) will appreciate it! Thanks for this real post :)

  6. Genesis

    I feel very identified with this post, thank you very much for sharing your NOT PERFECT life! and also thanks for the advice, very basic, hugs !!

    XX from Venezuela, Genesis

  7. bree

    I agree with Amanda W. I like the real stories.
    I can relate to this on every level and in fact had a very similar “ah-ha’ moment last night when going to bed. My daughter sleeps with us and I just had my hand on my husband while we were settling down and she asked “mommy, why are you hugging daddy?’ I said ‘because I love him’. She said, ‘i love him too’ and just continued on. It was so sweet and innocent. It had me thinking about the power of the touch and how I need to incorporate it more often. So reading this post this morning really gave me a new perspective and I think I just might give it a shot! Thanks for the tip.

  8. M

    Fourth decade of your life :)

  9. Kristen

    Thank you for sharing your hard days with us too. Sometimes a bloggers life doesn’t seem to show any hard days. I love this thought and will put it into practice today!

  10. Nicole

    This post was encouraging! I especially feel the weight of it all and am hyper aware when I’m being negative/unhappy me. And it’s such a selfish thing to be in that mode! Learning to put other’s interests above my own and giving out hugs/love is way better than giving out stress and negativity.

  11. Amelia

    No answers from the doc is frustrating and worrisome. I’m sorry. Home drama is deeply stressful because home needs to be a safe space. Plus moving is the worst. Work on top of motherhood (which is relentless even if joyful) can just feel unfair. I’m sorry. I feel these things too. Hugs help. Conceptualizing the light at the end of the tunnel helps. Writing helps. For me prayers sometimes too. Hang in there. All my empathy.

  12. Kayla

    Love this! Posts like this are exactly why I started following your blog. I love your parenting style, I love how you speak about and to your children, I love how you teach them…. I feel like the travel and fashion aspect of your blog are a bonus to the rockstar mom you are! Thanks for inspiring me to be a better mom to my boys.

  13. wow it sounds super stressful in your life right now! i hope it all calms down for you soon so you can feel yourself again :)

    sending lots of hugs! ♡

  14. Dawn

    I don’t have kids and I don’t have nearly as much going on in my life as you do, but I know this feeling and I am not a fan of it either. I am not overly affectionate, but I will try this when I am at my wits end. I just hope my friends and coworkers are open to getting hugged! Also, this post is so refreshing. I read your blog because you do such a wonderful job of making the ordinary things that are a part of everyday life seem so easy and so…glamorous! I feel like you are living the perfect life with the perfect husband and the perfect children. I hate to say this, but it’s nice to see this side of you…the harried side…the not so nice side…I know you’re human, but now you’re so much more real! Thank you, Naomi…thank you so much. HUGS TO YOU!!!

  15. Kate

    Love this. I feel this way all the time! And when I stop and pause to be present with my kids it makes all the difference. It is kindof like magic. Can’t quite figure out how it works but it does. And when I’m spinning, my guy will calm me down with a hug and it works every time. Good stuff here. Thanks for being honest!

    Kate

    http://Www.mwdgaf.com

  16. teresa

    This is such a great reminder. I think we’re so consumed with everything that’s going on around us that we forget to stop and just love on our little ones. This is a great post!

    xoxox
    Teresa

    http://www.aleandtere.com

  17. Charlotte

    My husband hugs me every time I start to get angry or upset because he knows I’ll come down lol. <3

  18. Alexa

    Echoing what Amanda said above. This post brings me back to the olden days of this blog, the ones where I became a fond reader, when you were candid about real life and posted about normal days. I know times have changed and your family life has become your business, but gosh this post was good. So, so good.

  19. So true. My youngest gives the best bear hugs. Whenever I’m having a hard day or just feeling down I ask him for one of his best hugs and he always comes over and gives me a big squeeze. Instantly makes me feel better!

  20. Victoria

    Awe I just want to give you a hug! I’ll be praying for you, Naomi! 💛

  21. Mallory

    There’s actual biological evidence that hugs help! I learned this from our couples therapist :) Having a moment of connection via hug helps to sync your central nervous system with the other person (kid, partner, etc).

    We practice hugging until we feel the other person relax. It’s especially important in moments of transition, leaving the house, one person coming home at the end of the day, etc. We always do this after getting the kiddos out the door and in the car when we’re crunched on time and a little stressed. A 30 second meaningful hug syncs up your nervous systems and prevents hours of tension. It’s so simple and so crazy effective!

  22. Annie

    There’s scientific research about what a 6-second hug does to our oxytocin levels. Google 6-second hug! I don’t have kids but I can attest to the benefits it had on my marriage. Sometimes we’ll deliberately hug in the middle of a fight and count slow, sleady seconds in our heads. The feeling of peace afterwards is like no other.

  23. Kelsi

    I’m glad you wrote this. I was actually thinking about you and Josh last night while my husband and two babies were out trying to have a nice evening at the lake and both kids were tired and crying. I wondered how on earth the two of you do it in the city and seem so happy and patient all the time. I’m grateful to know you have the lows in the midst of your adventures as well! And I’m grateful for your inspiration to keep on dreaming and adventuring even while having little children.

  24. Lucie

    Oh, thank you! This sounds like something I might try (from tomorrow on). My 3yo tries all kinds of ways to get my attention when I am alone with him and his baby brother. I have had far less sleep than would be reasonable these past three months since the baby arrived and I am getting more and more stressed by this big city that is Paris with two little ones in tow. I guess your method can only help me. Thanks again and keep it up, girl !

  25. brittany

    oh gosh, i am relating to this all so much right now. and it’s SO true. it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything life throws at you that you have to remember to just stop. investing in those little snuggles is the very best thing. i’m glad you shared this, i needed the reminder myself!!

  26. Claire

    Hugs – not the quick ones before dashing out the door, but purposeful and given some time – release the hormone called oxycontin which yes, will make you feel good. So glad you’ve found something that works for you!

  27. Claire

    *oxytocin

  28. rachel

    beautiful post. random question because i feel like you answer things like this honestly, how in the world do you keep your fiddle leaf (pictured in the background) alive? i’ve tried all the how-to’s and can’t seem to swing it. any advice/tips/tricks for a wanna-be plant mom?

  29. Toytulip

    Oh gosh! This post came at the perfect time for me…. Thank you for sharing this with us! I will give your ‘hug’ method a try when frustration and impatience hit next… :D

  30. Shelby

    I feel silly saying this, but I was having such a hard night just as you described all those unpleasant feelings and felt I guess prompted to go to your blog (I always love your blog anyway) but reading this was just what I needed to hear, feel and know. Thanks for being open and putting out in the world what you learned. xo
    Shelby

  31. Achradina

    I really enjoyed your post, thank you for writing it.

    I just wanted to point out that it’s a bit hard to read, for a person like me, who isn’t a native English speaker. Is there a reason for the lack of capitalization or punctuation? I don’t always get American ways either.

  32. Merel

    <3
    I'll try more hugs! Thank you for the great post!

  33. Emily

    Thanks for this post! My husband and I only have one baby so far, but he has been high-maintenance from the get-go and I also have knee and hip problems right now and this week the baby has decided that 5:30am is definitely wake up time and gosh, it just feels like nothing is easy lately. But this post was a nice reminder that even veteran parents feel overwhelmed and stressed, too.

    Actually, I think about this other post you wrote a lot lately, where you said how you’d been trying to get Conrad down for a nap for over an hour. My baby (I guess actually kind of a toddler now!) has never been easy to get down for naps or bedtime and sometimes when I’m in the midst of a really tricky time of trying to get him to sleep, that post pops up in my mind and it’s nice to realize that sometimes, babies are just like that and if 3rd-time-around moms can still have problems with nap time, then I should cut myself some slack for it, too.

  34. Love this!

  35. I wrote a post on my blog similar to your perspective back in 2012 while all my kids were in different schools(high school, middle, elementary, and toddler age), and was losing it for a moment. I added this quote in it which truly opened my eyes!

    We need 4 hugs a day for survival.
    We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.
    We need 12 hugs a day for growth.
    ~Virginia Satir

    Hugs are sooooo important to give, and receive, They truly make us sane, and help us to survive, and move forward! Especially when we have little ones!

    Good luck to you mama, and have a great week!

    xo

  36. i feel you, naomi. it’s been this oddly emotions-heightened few weeks that makes me feel everything so deep–even the good, this-is-what-life-is-all-about things but even so, it’s sort of exhausting. to feel such love i think also means i feel the opposite pretty deeply too. keep those hugs up. i’m sure it’s the best medicine. and hope you get the health things squared away soon. that sort of stuff is defeating!

  37. Whitney Olson

    In our first year of marriage my husband and I both said in a fight that all we wanted was a hug. If you want to end the fight, take back the words you said, be supportive, heal any hurt, just give each other a hug. It has been the one thing that cools all and refocuses us on what matters most, each other.

  38. We have a family “Haws Hug” every night after stories and prayers. It usually ends in squishing the middle man and lots of laughter. Helps ease the tension of getting four littles to bed at a reasonable pace. Also–happys and sads at the dinner table. We usually get stuck on ‘happys’ (our two year old refuses to ever say a sad, only happys haha) and it helps relive the favorite moments of the day which helps because sometimes the time before dinner can get tense in our house!

  39. Alison Briggs

    I agree with what others have said – great post that is real and relate-able! Every time I check your blog lately its seems to be showing the latest trip you went on – cute new outfits or fun excursion – which is great! But it is only one side and its nice to see that there are bad days too. even though we all know they exist for everyone – its nice to read it and feel like – yes! I know what you are going through! I havent been able to feel like that with your blog in quite some time as I have a 9-5 job and we are not able to travel much right now. While it is so nice to see your trips, its also nice to see the ‘behind the ‘scenes as well.

  40. The hug on the first day of the school was the one that makes me cry! Time passing by so fast.

  41. Rebekah

    This post was so lovely. It was heartfelt and genuine and refreshing. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the nitty-gritty and bittersweet of figuring out how to navigate life without losing the love in our hearts.

  42. sabrina

    I love this post. Please do more of them. I was almost going to stop coming by so often as it started to feel a bit like a commercial. Remember, you need the human to hang the product on. We love the human!

  43. Amanda

    Thank you for this post. I’ve had a frustrating couple of weeks at work, and my patience with my family isn’t where it should be as a result. Last night, my toddler hugged me and held on for a good while – then she asked if I felt better, and I could answer honestly that I did. I see a lot more hugs in my future.

  44. Meghan Campbell

    This was so needed, thank you. Aren’t we all struggling in some ways and in need of more hugs?! I love when you share those more vulnerable parts of yourselves and your lives. It’s super refreshing. Also, just wanna say, your couch with the wood trim is 👌🏽👌🏽👌🏽. Personally loving the white walls with the caramel couch and wood. Please keep it!! Hugs xxoo

  45. Hannah

    This post is a gem. there have been times where people who are close to me will stop me in my tracks and ask me if i need a hug, which i am physically affectionate but not one to think of needing it. those hugs accomplish wonderful things.