That Tug

We sink into the couch.

He leans against me, our arms and legs tangled beneath the fuzziest of blankets.

Even though his warmth, this moment, our silliness are so very vivid, it’s the colors that strike me.

The yellow couch smudged in memories, the cornflower blanket stretched with moments, his eyes a blended version of Jason’s almond and my hazel.

Upstairs, the girls are having a sleepover. Music and dancing and giggles and movies and snacks and nail polish color their evening perfection.

They’ve shut the door, closing all of that goodness inside. I understand that instinct, that want, that need, to take something beautiful and try to hold onto it exactly the way it is.

And “way downstairs” Jason is working on the basement. The paint and the shelves and the toys and the books and the mess scream Change is happening here.

We’re slimming down the “Play Room” and fattening up the “Family Space.”

I like this change. I initiated it, in fact.

But like my girls upstairs, a part of me wants to close the door on the goodness that was.

The baby dolls and the blocks and the puzzles made of thick wooden pieces carefully maneuvered and manipulated and placed by each of my children’s (no longer) pudgy fingers.

Instead, I sit in this middle spot with Brody.

We’re watching E.T. and eating reese’s pieces. As we near the end, he leans a sleepy head against my shoulder.

My boy, cut from the same cloth as I am, isn’t a fan of any endings, especially not this one.

Elliot and E.T. are soul connected, but have to part ways.

The first time our family watched this classic, Jason and I weren’t sure if he’d understand the movie, sit through it, enjoy it.

When the credits closed, the girls gathered their blankets and pillows and popcorn cups. Our chatter wove with the music.

So good.

So sweet.

Just right.

And Brody, sitting perfectly (and uncharacteristically) still, legs crossed beneath him, fingers laced in his lap like I imagine he sits at school, cried.

Oh how I understood those tears. The ones made for someone else’s hurt.

They come from that HeartTug, the one that’s somewhat inconvenient and not really ours to own and not exactly our story to tell.

But that tug, that empathy, is at the core of goodness, and not meant to be muted.

(It’s also why I love stories. And why Jason used to ban Lifetime movies.)

I met an old friend for coffee one morning.

She flew into the seat across from me, breathing a freshness into the large, quiet room I’d been sitting right in the middle of. I was one pause in her busy day.

Her voice rose and fell in quick vignettes about her really big kids that I can’t quite gasp yet, but I tried my best to wrap my fingers around our time together and the pictures she painted.

Two steps ahead of me in parenting, I look to her for what’s to come; small slices of her story that I want to weave into mine.

And that day, this is what I heard the loudest. “I always tell my kids, if you notice it, it’s yours.”

Yes, this. Exactly this.

Brody’s tears for Elliot and E.T.

His teacher’s hand pressed flat to her heart for the student that suddenly had to move.

The cashier at Target who paid for a confused, toothless woman’s groceries -tomato soup, bread, cheese, one apple- out of her own pocket.

If you notice it, it’s yours.

Step into that tug, follow that call, and do something, anything, to help.

The world is sweeter in this way, and I hope that my children (and I) are always soft enough to free fall into that tug.

We took our kids sledding early the next morning.

They went up to the biggest hill, and we stood down low watching them. Waiting for them to free fall toward us in a way that I believe is the most fun for snow-born children.

The hill seemed so big and the snow so vast and they, seemed so far and so small. I couldn’t reach them.

So I did the only thing there was to do.

I stood with my booted feet planted in the snow and waited for them to free fall, trusted them to make their own paths.

And they did.

They bounced and flew and fell and turned just at the right moment and when they skidded to a stop just inches away from me and my planted boots, spraying my toes and my scarf and even my hood with perfectly white snow, they laughed, we all did.

Because even though we’re all quite small, our tugs are big and there and when we let ourselves free fall into them, we sweeten our own lives and that of those who kiss it.

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Comments

  1. Beautiful. My son has the softest heart and is the kindest person. My girls are a little harder around the edges, but still so kind when given the opportunities. I truly don’t even think they know they are being kind and generous – they just noticed it and it was theirs.

    I have been thinking a lot obout gratitude so far this year and this is post that will continue my thinking.

  2. Beautiful.
    My kids have not seen E.T. yet, can you believe it? I have been meaning to watch it with them, knowing well that Marius will react exactly the same way Brody did…

    Thank you for this wonderful post, it made me pause for a while and I became quiet inside.

  3. It’s true, we are quite small in the grand scheme of things, but are so BIG to those who love us.

    I always love what I take away from your beautiful words, Galit. xoxo

  4. This post right here? This is a tug, that I notice. It’s mine, it’s mine! :)

    Loved this. I want my children to feel and see and hold those tugs that will come into their lives, big and small.

  5. I just love your writing. You make your reader FEEL. You make this mother’s heart step into your moments in the loveliest of ways. And I always, always get misty. Sniff…

  6. I have a lump in my throat. That word – tug? Yes. That is exactly what it is. And sometimes when I see my boys feel it, too, I recognize what’s in their heart at that moment. I feel that connection. It’s mine and theirs, at the same time. Beautiful!

  7. I find it hard to put this into words, but this was such a beautiful post Galit.
    Empathy is a wonderful quality. Being born with that or even being raised by someone that has that quality is a truly a gift.

  8. “If you notice it, it’s yours.”–this has to be one of my favorite posts that you’ve written. it’s beautiful, poignant, and just brimming with everything I believe to be true. I love how you’ve woven each little vignette into ONE STRONG message. Thank you Galit.

  9. So very beautiful. And I adore that saying – if you notice it, it’s yours.

  10. Such a beautiful message from your words, as always. Watching the discovery of those tugs- in me, in my husband, in my children- is such an amazing thing.

    Beautiful.

  11. Oh, God, Galit, yes. So, so beautiful. This takes my breath away. xoxo

  12. Galit, this was a beautiful tribute to your relationship with your son. It reminds me to be present more with my children and notice what they notice. To put down my phone or pause a conversation to notice their tugs. That tug-I feel that when I look at them. Thank you for writing and sharing this!

  13. This is so beautiful. I started crying within a few words. My boys are five and two and the youngest has been killing me lately, and I haven’t enjoyed parenting very much over the last few months. Thank you for reflecting on the sweeter moments.

  14. Beautiful post, as always, Galit! What’s interesting here is also just how it is that some of our kids “notice” it a lot and others don’t. And not because some of our kids are better than our other children, but just because they are that different! It fascinates me in my own family.

  15. ahhhh. yes. yes. sounds like my own son.

  16. I want to give Brody a big old hug and tell him I get it. I get why he is sad and I don’t like endings either. Plus he is so adorably cute! You make me want to free fall into the goodness of this world, Galit. I want to notice and take. It’s why I don’t watch Lifetime movies anymore. :) Too much noticing and taking. I was a mess. You make me grateful that I am a person full of emotions. It’s like you reach through the computer saying it’s okay…good even.

  17. Galit, this was beautiful. That HeartTug is heavy on my mind right now. I am thinking of two friends who are hurting. I am sending them love. I also have a ban on the Lifetime Movies instituted by my husband during my last pregnancy. My oldest and I are a lot alike in this respect. Having big emotions is nothing to be ashamed of; that HeartTug (empathy) is what makes us respond to others.

  18. My son wept broken tears when Aslan was killed in the Chronicles of Narnia. It hurt to watch him, but I was so glad that he has a heart that is so soft. I want to protect it so it stays soft.

  19. This is so beautiful . I can see so much of myself in your son and I imagine that when my son is a bit older he will be the same way. I think empathy is the best thing and one of the biggest things we can teach our kids.

  20. I remember the first time I watched ET as a little girl. My Mum took my brother and I – we were about 4 and 5 at the time – to the drive in. I remember it so vividly even though I was only 5. My brother and I, we both cried.

    This post made me tear up. I get it. You`ve reached into my mind once again.

    And that line that your friend said, `If you notice it, it`s yours`…well, I just love that and I will never forget it. So true.

    You gave me a huge heart tug Galit. Thank you.

  21. So very sweet.

  22. I loved this – especially your friend’s advice: “If you notice it, it’s yours.” Such wise words!

  23. Oh, Galit, your words are so beautiful and the sentiment just as much. If you notice it, it’s yours. LOVE that!

  24. This was quite a tug. So beautiful. xoxo

  25. I can only hope I can find that lovely place where I’m there right at the end of their free fall down the sledding hill. Their hearts are so soft and wonderful and caring, and I want them to always know I will do my best to be there at the end.

  26. you always have the most beautiful words linked together to form perfect pictures.
    My daughter is still very small and hasn’t quite grasped the heart felt part of movies, but she understands the happiest of parts.
    I can see your son holding his heart and feeling the hurt.
    It’s your hurt too!
    Our hearts walk outside of ourselves when we have children.
    Beautiful Galit.

  27. What can I say (comment) that hasn’t been said?
    I really enjoyed this post as Julia is also showing empathy these days, and I love it.

  28. “Because even though we’re all quite small, our tugs are big and there and when we let ourselves free fall into them, we sweeten our own lives and that of those who kiss it.”

    Gorgeous, dear.
    Kiran

  29. There is much to own .. if only we take the time to make it ours xxxx

  30. I love this. My son asked his sister to dance today. To dance. My heart split open in that moment. :)

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