The average time people spend on a hug is way too short: about 3 seconds. But according to researchers at UNC’s school of medicine, it takes at least 20-seconds of hugging until scientists see a rise in oxytocin, sometimes called the “love-drug.” And, the positive effects of the hug may be more pronounced for women. After this past week, I’m a convert.
I’m standing in the kitchen blinking back tears while getting dinner ready for the kids. They’re playing outside with neighbors and my husband is on duty. I put grapes in a bowl while the throbbing pain in my head reminds me that I do not have it together. I turn on some gospel music and take slow, regular deep breaths to keep my insides from shaking. “I need you to make a way. As you have done so many times before, through window or an open door…”
Breathe. Chop onions.
“Mama!!” The preschooler comes charging in. “Go wash your hands, baby, dinner’s almost ready.”
My husband gets both boys clean and seated at the table. I make plates and avoid eye contact. Eye contact would signal that there’s a problem. We can’t deal with this problem right now.
The kids are eating at the table. My husband and I are standing in the kitchen. He pulls me toward him, folding me into a hug, and I finally let the tears stream down my face. Quietly. My back to the dining room table.
To the kids, it looks like Dada is just giving Mama a really long hug. He is. It probably lasted 120 seconds while he fended off child requests. “Mama! I need some milk….Mama! I need more rice. What are you doing, Mama?!” My husband answers – his arms still around me, my face still against his chest – “I’ll get you some in a minute. Tell me what you did at school today.”
My mind is a whirlwind of worries: What if I’m late to my presentation? Can I even do it in Spanish? Why are they always calling “mama”? They do have a daddy. What if we can’t sell this old car? Did I do enough with my research? Will we have enough money when we go back? Where will we live? What if he doesn’t find a job? What if he settles for a job he doesn’t like?
I breathe. And just stand in this 120 second hug.
*photo credit: http://letslaugh.net/quotes-and-inspiration/hugging-is-good-for-you-try-it-and-see/