Many people will say that a kiss from a loved one makes everything better. A bad day at work turns around when you walk in the door at home and your kids rush to you for hello kisses. An early morning wake up call makes you smile when your kids storm your bed with kisses. A kiss goodbye when you walk out the door, leaves you with a sense of calm as you start a crazy day. A kiss goodnight leaves you at peace, as your day comes to a close.
In our house....a simple hug does all this. My son Brady has never shown much emotion. He doesn't snuggle. He has never crawled into our bed to lay next to us to watch some early morning TV. He doesn't kiss goodnight. He doesn't always look at you when you talk to him or when you tell him you love him. But Brady gives incredible hugs.
Until recently, Brady would sometimes wrap his arms around your neck, loosely, unsure sometimes of what he was doing, but we would make a huge deal out this little act. We would exclaim how wonderful and loving his hugs were-even though you knew the emotion behind the hug wasn't really there. Then something beautiful started to happen....Brady would tug on your pant leg and put his hands up. He wanted to hug you. He wanted you to lift him up so he could wrap his arms around your neck. He wanted us to know how much he loves us. He wants to hug us.
We have never, ever doubted how much love our son has for his family. He has found his own way -- which do not include words or waves or cuddles -- to show us how much he loves us, how much he cares about us and how much he appreciates us. It just isn't the way most people are used to. When you have a child with special needs or special abilities....you find ways. You find ways to communicate when the words don't come. You find ways to get around when the walking is slow to develop. You find ways to have fun to when toys and TV won't suffice. You find ways to show how much you care about each other. But when a hug becomes a real hug....you have found your way.
We celebrate little things in our family. We celebrate Brady watching a movie for 20 minutes with his sister (even if it doesn't happen often), we celebrate Brady's teacher telling us he sat in a chair during circle time for 5 minutes all by himself and we celebrate climbing stairs, picking up toys and using a fork. We celebrate all these things for our 3 1/2 year old son. We celebrate accomplishments...big, small, "normal" and unique...each and every one. With Brady's chromosome disorder, we do not always know what accomplishments will become part of Brady's day to day life and which will fade away and disappear for months...sometimes longer. So we celebrate things as they happen. The last few days, we have been celebrating real, honest to goodness hugs.
Earlier this week, after my daughter Molly had left for school and I was racing around trying to get myself put together for work before heading out for Brady's school bus, my amazing little son ran into my room and pulled hard on my pant leg. I was in a hurry and didn't realize what he was doing, until he tugged a little harder and I turned around to see his arms outstretched and a wide smile spread across his face. His eyes were wide and full of so much love. I reached down, as my own eyes filled with tears of so much joy, and scooped him up into a hug...he wrapped his long, lanky, weak arms around my neck and laid his head upon my shoulder. He hugged me. Really hugged me. A hug that was filled with so much love, and yes, some gratitude, I think, to me for waiting so long to feel this kind of love from one's own child.
Brady does things on his own terms, always has and I am pretty sure, always will. It is frustrating and scary waiting for developmental milestones...but when they come, they are just that much more precious. When your son, reaches his arms up, looks you straight in the eye and smiles...when that hug comes...all of the fear, frustration and worry...melts away. The hugs are coming pretty regular now. He chases his sister around for hugs every evening as she twirls around dancing...stopping only to oblige her brother and pick him up for a hug only siblings can share.
He saves those special hugs, the ones where he squeezes with all his might, for his dad, just to remind him that things will be OK. He has hugs for his grandparents...the kinds that only grandparents get, because they take them big and small and celebrate each one. Even my younger brother, Uncle Brian, got to experience a real Brady hug this weekend...and I saw those tears well up in my brother's own eyes, as he lifted Brady up into a big bear hug. In our house...a hug is never "just a hug." To my family and I, a hug from our special little boy...makes everything better.