carine hartman 2021

By Carine Hartman

Chief sub-editor

A mother’s revelation: The power of hugs in the midst of crisis

Today, in the chaos of a life-altering moment, one mother discovers the profound impact of a simple act—hugging.

Let’s get physical in the words of Olivia Newton-John, rest her soul. Mine won’t because I realised today we just don’t hug. And we need to.

Daughter is easy to hug – even virtually. The first “Mommy I need you” I put on my grown-up cap and am there.

Boys not. And I am gobsmacked about why I don’t hug them all the time.

I spent Christmas Eve – our only special time over this “season” – with two of my towering ones. Lots of eating, lots of love, little touching. We needed to hug, I realise now.

My son got rolled over by daylight robbers for his cell today.

ALSO READ: Will the real men please stand up?

I’m in a live business Zoom but he just couldn’t care. Everyone in the meeting now knows: he’s been robbed and hyperventilates in the background. Arteries bulging, he grabs my phone, phoning …whoever.

I’m a pro, but two minutes later I watch barefoot Older Brother throwing open the gate, panga in hand. Son following with all his previous energy – and leaves a little gap in the gate for my biting dogs.

I’m trying to concentrate on a diary but I’m in fight mode. When my dogs come-and-go a third time through the gap, I showed my first sign of crisis: “forgive me, but…” Lifting my head to the gate I screamed: “expletive, get inside.”

It worked for the dogs.

My boy got a hot mug of coffee filled with sugar he never drinks “because you’re in shock and we have to get your sugar levels up”, this firm believer says.

ALSO READ: When life is done with you, you just know

Strong coffee and four teaspoons later I hug a crying boy.

I don’t care about pangas, knives, pepper sprays, could’ve, should’ve. All I saw was a shattered boy who needed a hug.

All I saw was the older one with bleeding feet who rose to “I’ll run through hell for you, my brother, even if I sometimes really don’t like you.”

I hugged one aplenty. And saw him in Bob Dylan’s words “break like a little girl”. I still need to hug the saviour with the bloody feet who fell into bed after his mad chase that meant… nothing.

But it’s not nothing. It was one brother hugging another despite their differences. They deserve a hug. So overdue…

ALSO READ: Yours is the only voice to make the difference

Read more on these topics

crisis daughter mother

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits