In April, 2010, when Andrew was 2 1/2, a tumor was discovered behind his eye. The tumor was removed, but it was found to be an aggressive cancer. He endured seven months of chemo and six weeks radiation. In December of 2010, the day after his last treatment, he was rushed to the ER with an almost fatal bacterial infection. He survived.

He is now seven-years-old!! I don't visit here much, because during the ordeal, this is where I dumped everything--my rage, my fear, my sadness, my ugly, my hope, my everything. But I want all of you who supported and prayed for us to hear his updates. You helped me survive, and I am deeply thankful. Every once in awhile, I will check in to let you know how he's doing. Please continue to pray that cancer will never return to his body. Thank you.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Four Hugs a Day

"Four hugs a day, that's the minimum. Four hugs a day, not the maximum.  Four hugs a day..."

Amused, my mouth smiled on one side as I watched Sammy move his mouth up and down, pretending to sing, staring at the ceiling, then at his friends, and then at his fingers.  The rest of the boys seemed to have practiced the same distracted routine, only in a different order.  The little girl next to him was animated, engaged, and singing each word in tune.  Her curly pony tail swung behind her as she swayed to the music.  The rest of the preschool girls seemed to follow her lead.  The boys wiggled and squirmed, the girls watched the teachers and copied their hand movements.

For most of the song, I hardly noticed the words.  The melody reminded me of a song that Lucy and Ethel might have performed in one of their Vaudeville skits; slightly grating if not for the sweet voices singing along.  Andrew was on my lap playing his Leapster.  It was a little too loud, and Sponge Bob kept whistling in my ear, so I was fumbling for the volume control.  Noticing the stylish preschool moms surrounding me, I was also worrying about my boots, and wondering if I had coordinated them well with my outfit. I'm still not sure.

But at some point during the song, the distractions faded.  I began to listen the sing-songy lyrics, and I focused in on my middle son. Suddenly I found myself considering the words.  "Do I hug him enough?" I asked myself.

I carry Andrew constantly.  I hug him before I put him in his carseat.  I give him a squeeze when I lift him out.  I cuddle with him at night to help him fall asleep.  He plops down on my lap, whether I am ready or not. 

My oldest son Aaron has always been naturally affectionate and comes to me for hugs, even when I don't come to him. 

But Sammy?  He used to wait for a hug before school in the morning, but now he runs off, happy to see his friends.  When I pick him up from school, he runs past me to the playground.  He can put on his own seatbelt.  As I reflected on my daily routine, a realization sunk in:  I need to be more affectionate with my middle boy.  Days slip away too quickly.

So I have been looking for opportunities to reach out; for moments to tousle his hair, or squeeze his shoulders, or give him a kiss on the cheek.  I don't want to miss him in the busy routine of life.  I want him to know, and to feel that he is loved.

The next morning when I woke up, the rest of the house was still quiet and dark.  I could hear the heavy breathing of sleep and curtains were still covering the windows.   I found Sammy sprawled out on top of his red and blue plaid comforter.  I lay down and curled up next to him.  I squeezed him tightly to me, kissed his soft cheek, and whispered, "Wake up Sammy bug!"  And before he could pry his eyes away from dreams, he smiled.  He smiled huge. 

As the days continue, with school drop-offs and pick-ups,with treks to the grocery store and times at the park, I keep looking for those moments.

And I keep finding them.

"Four hugs a day, that's the minimum. Four hugs a day, not the maximum.  Four hugs a day..." (And yes.  that song was in my head ALL week!)


  1. Oh wow. Julie, this is beautiful. I love these moments too. Sometimes you really do have to look for them with a busy little boy. :) I love how you write.

  2. Gotta love the little middle guys! Mine has the softest hair, and I love to snuggle his head against my cheek and just breathe in the sweetness.

  3. This is lovely Julie. How sweet that you are looking for ways to connect with Sammy (and all because of a "silly" song).

    I know that song and will now be singing it all day too! lol...

  4. I remember this song from when my girls were in kindergarten. It won't just be in your head all week. It will be in your head FOREVER! :)
    (I guess considering the lyrics, it's a good one to have stuck in your head.)
    p.s. I love that photo of Sammy and his live pillow pet!

  5. smiles. i think a 4 hug a day minimum is a great the way you woke him up...

  6. a good song, a good story. keep hugging them.

  7. i have tears... oh julie... it must be so hard to love on all of your boys equally when andrew is going through such pain, but you're doing it--you are. and it humbles me to no end. may God continue to give you the strength to see their needs, and to meet them... and may you find space to have your own needs met too. so much love to you sister. (thank you for linking!)

  8. Julie, you are a good momma and a good role model to me. Gosh that sounds kind of institutional for something I feel heartdeep when I read this. But you are!

  9. I don't know that song, but thank you for the timely reminder to hug my boys (12 & 10 now)
    a little more, before they no longer need it!

  10. That is the sweetest picture! I too struggle to make sure that all my children get hugs, especially my oldest. She's pulling away alot right now, so I'm trying to catch those huggable moments. Thank you for the reminder. :)

  11. I love this post because I have two wee girls and have to really work in hug-time for my 11-year-old son. Your boys are beautiful. I will be praying for all of you.

  12. this is so sweet...... i love the hugs i get from the two girls i babysit!! they make me want to have my own kids :)


Your thoughts...