Wednesdays are called BIG Wednesdays at our place. We start at 6.30 to get to choir by 7:40, it is sports day for both girls, I head over to the clinic, so we need lunches packed for all, we have to remember it’s library day, then after school care, then netball training til 6.30pm. With Mark away as well, it’s entirely possible it’s a McDinner tonight. I pack a salad for lunch. A mid week load of washing is in the machine.
The girls take a stool at the kitchen bench; I pour myself a coffee and them a hot chocolate. They have bed head, are wrapped in onsies and fluffy dressing gowns and chatting about a YouTuber. Ellie takes her first sip of the warm chocolaty milk. “Mmmmm” she says and leaning into her older sister and giving her a side hug. Ruby reacts with a confused face and pulls away. “It was just so yummy I had to hug someone”, Ellie explains. Today she is the joy bringer.
I pile one child into the car for choir, check the lunch box is in, the jacket, the water bottle, the library satchel, the laptop which isn’t charged again. I ask the other to bring in the newspaper and hang out the washing. I get a blank look. I congratulate myself on my ten minute meditation which enabled me to hold my peace in that moment, while I reverse out over the paper, passing the bin which is the only one left out in the street from Monday. I need a neon sign at the front of my house which says “It’s Wednesday – for the love of ducks – cut me some slack!”
We head to choir, where we are usually late or completely miss this if we can’t pull off an early morning. I switch off the radio and begin the car therapy. “You know when you hugged your sister at breakfast and she didn’t know what to do, or why you did that?” I begin. She smiles. “I was just so happy!” We are approaching the road works near the farm, which I forgot about. They have blocked off a lane while they lay some pipes for drainage and we wait in line for the man to turn the sign from STOP to SLOW.
“Some people don’t know how to react when you hug them, or when you are happy and they aren’t. It’s not your fault, sometimes people don’t know how to be around emotions.” I wanted her to know what she did this morning was gorgeous and expressive and authentic. I don’t want her to feel rejected by not getting a response. “Some people aren’t huggers, or they might not feel happy when you do, so don’t take offence, just keep doing it, just keep bringing the joy!” Up ahead, the man turns the sign and we move forward behind a line of cars, who are now probably also late for choir. We wave like maniacs to the sign man. I yell out “Thanks Buddy!” he maintains passive face and doesn’t react. “See?” I say, “Some people get it and some take a while, but don’t stop bringing the joy”. I know persistence pays off; it took me two years of saying good morning to one-bike-two-dogs til he finally caved and cracked a smile.
I return home, hang out the washing, scoff my breakfast, put on mascara and try to tame my hair. I hustle the older child into the car to the continuous parenting audio loop of “jacket, lunchbox, fill up your water, have you cleaned your teeth?” We each stab at our favourite radio channel, back and forth until we get some music and she looks out the window. We approach the roadworks again.
I begin the car sermon. “You know when I saw you after drop off the other day, hugging your buddy, you both looked so happy!” She smiles. She had been on camp for a week and had not seen her Prep buddy. “Her whole face lit up as she hugged you and even her Dad was smiling.” I usually try to drive safely at drop off zone, but I always do the look-back to make sure they don’t need anything. This is when I saw Ruby drop to her knees grinning and hugging her four year old buddy. “Do you realise how much joy you bring to each other?” she smiles and tells me her birthday is coming up soon. We spoke about hugs and how some people are huggers and some are not, how some people relish in our joy and others don’t know how to be. We talked about her sister hugging her at breakfast and how unexpected it was, but also how beautiful.
Don’t ever underestimate the joy you bring to people, or the joy others can bring to you. Be the hugger, or the hugee. Give and receive the joy. Be the smiling person, be the maniac kid and Mum waving at the road-works man. Persistence pays off, because one day, maybe when the weather warms up, or the sun is shining at a different angle and warming his face, he will realise even though he is outside and it is early and cold, and we are all late now, that it is a goddamn beautiful day.
And what an excuse for this ditty by the Eels.