The Heartbreaking Last Wish That’s Impossible To Ignore


“Wait…don’t go.” It is barely a whisper. I’m just outside the room, my hand on the door knob pulling it closed, but I freeze. Silence. I’m suddenly unsure whether I heard anything at all.


“Just one more hug?”

I’ve been listening to these last-minute bedtime requests for so many years I can’t remember at what point they became part of the routine of tucking my children into bed.

“I have to go potty again.”

“Can you leave a light on?”

“Can I have a drink of water?”

All requests I’ve been able to dismiss/fulfill quickly and make my exit. However, the request for one more hug gets me every time. I often wonder if maybe they’re on to me having found the loophole in the bedtime routine. I’m a sucker for a hug and we’ve all had that day where we can use another hug.

As the sun is replaced by the light of the moon signifying the end of another day, we lay in bed reviewing the day’s events and briefly relive the feelings of the emotional roller coaster we didn’t buy a ticket to ride. Yet there we are, the clickety clack of the track adding to the anticipation of the rise and impending drop we face with both excitement and dread.

When my children were younger, I wondered what that rollercoaster felt like for their tiny bodies bursting with excitement over their favorite show, frustration at not being able to articulate their message, or anger at being obligated to take a nap. Then, the sheer exhaustion at the end of the day when their bodies betrayed them as their eyelids struggled to remain open and their little heads dropped in search of a pillow. That overtired feeling after a day packed with emotion often prompted the “one more hug” whisper as I was about to make my escape to load the dishwasher, throw one more load of laundry in the washing machine or watch the latest episode of Spartacus.

My children are now thirteen and ten and I still tuck them in at night. They may no longer need a drink of water or a nightlight, but some nights I’m caught off guard by the soft whisper before they drift off to sleep, “Just one more hug?”

Ironically, these days I find I’m not in such a hurry to speed through the bedtime routine. I can wait to find out whether Daryl is dead or alive. Instead, I linger in their rooms a little longer as though I sense these nights are slipping away. It’s as though the action of turning off their bedside lamp also dims our childhood routine a bit more each time. I lean in and inhale their scent though it no longer smells like Johnson’s baby shampoo and talcum powder. I find I hug them a little tighter, hold on to them a little longer.

There will come a time when they won’t request an extra bedtime hug let alone to be tucked in at night. They will grow up, move out, face the world with all the values I’ve instilled in them and possibly have children of their own to tuck in each night. The world will show them love and kindness, but it will also disappoint them and break their hearts. Tonight, as I stand outside their bedroom I pray they know I’ll always be right here, on the other side of the door, ready to give them “just one more hug.”


This post was written as part of Finish The Sentence Friday, “If I Only Had…”


26 thoughts on “The Heartbreaking Last Wish That’s Impossible To Ignore

  1. Oh, this got to me. My youngest daughter, 10, does the one more hug several times each night. And, you’re right, it’s a request that a mother can’t possibly ignore or refuse. I mean what if I said, that’s enough hugs now, and then without knowing it at the time, that was my last chance for a bedtime hug? That kind of thinking whirls around in my head all the time, and so I HAVE to go back in for one more hug, and I think she’s caught on and has me wrapped around her little finger. But, like you said, my older two don’t ask for bedtime hugs anymore, so I’m milking this for all it’s worth. But sometimes, I just want to go to bed, too. I’m tired! Beautiful writing. Nice job!

    1. Exactly! I’m sure my kids have figured out that asking for one more hug will surely get me to come back, but these days especially as I see them morphing into something I’m not sure i”m ready for I don’t even care if they’re onto me. I’m coming back for another hug every time!

    1. Thank you. I think there are a few years of “in between” where we start to really cherish each moment with them because the next chapter seems to be hovering in the shadows waiting to pounce and present a college student!

  2. My oldest is 12. She recently moved upstairs to her own bedroom. I missed tucking her in at night because I was in her brothers’ room tucking them in. But she still comes back down for a last minute potty break before going to sleep and then I get an extra hug. 🙂

  3. That was beautiful. I remember the exhausting bedtime routine where reading a story would just about put me to sleep and I still had stuff to do. And then a call back becaue Teddy wasn’t in the covers. Then a call back because of this and that but the one more hug would be the one to make me appreciate the routine as a whole. At age 11 he stills asks for one and it pains me to think of when he might now. Loved this post!

    1. Thank you! Yes, when they were younger I confess to rushing through that bedtime routine because I was tired or watching the clock, counting down until bedtime. Funny how now even though I’m still exhausted come bedtime I don’t want to rush through it…especially when they want to talk about their day. Sigh.

    1. Yours are about the same age as mine so I know you get it! I’m definitely torn at times wanting time to slow down but wanting to see what amazing adults they’ll become. For now, I try to enjoy each moment, each chapter as it comes.

  4. Oh those hugs. Just yesterday, I spent the morning with my niece and her two year-old son at “Little Chefs” where the three of us made a pizza. As I went to unbuckle him from his carseat and say goodbye, the little guy grabbed my face and said “Hi, sweetie.” He then gave me a huge hug. I’d forgotten the power of their hugs. Am pressing the “hold” button for you. May time slow down and allow you to enjoy your two for years and years to come.

    1. That is the sweetest! Those hugs that come out of the blue when you least expect them are so filled with love and definitely worth pressing the “hold” button. If only we had one!

  5. Your writing is exquisite. Your post this week, spot on. I know that feeling of one more hug. I have 4 children and love to hug them. My oldest one is out of the house and my second one will leave for college in the fall. My 14 year old daughter sometimes has to be forced into hugs, but my son loves snuggles and hugs. I hope he doesn’t outgrow that for a very long time.

    1. Thank you so much. I do see the difference in my children based on their personalities. One is definitely a hugger all the time even without being prompted. The other isn’t as much, but when those hugs are given they’re extra special!

  6. An interesting thing happened as my brothers and I got older. Instead of us asking our Mom for a hug, we were the ones that were reminded that a hug was always required when we departed. She spent the last few years of her life in a continuing care facility and whenever we came to visit or took her out, if we forgot to bend down and give her a farewell hug, she’d say, “Didn’t you forget something?” with a smile on her face. Hugs are the best things you can give or get. I gave my Dad a hug the last time I saw him and I had no idea it would be the last hug I’d get from him. As your children get older, don’t be afraid to ask for that hug if they forget.

    1. I can relate to this because my parents always reminded us to hug and kiss them before leaving the house whether heading out to school in the morning or to a friend’s house. We also were taught to hug at bedtime even if we had just been in the middle of an argument only minutes before going to bed. I’ve instilled the same in my kids and hope they carry on the importance of a hug. I know I’m a huge fan of them!

  7. When my daughter Tamra was little, she had a hard time letting go at night, just as you describe. I thought, of my three girls, she’d be the one who’d have the most difficulty flying the coop. I was wrong. She left for college and never came back as so many do. She’s 33 now, and more independent than I ever imagined. Do I miss those moments of “Please check on me,” and “Mommy, come back.” While I was okay with the empty nest, sometimes I must admit, one more hug would be just perfect.

    1. I always wonder about my own children “flying the coop” as my daughter is older but has a harder time letting go of me. While I do believe I’ll handle the empty nest just fine when the time comes, I know I’ll miss those nightly hugs.

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