Everyday when I get home before I can even close the front door Ladybug has usually thrown herself on me or is running full speed in my direction.
“Mommy, mommy, mommy,” she says laughing with her arms outstretched.
She runs up to me and jumps on me. If I don’t bend to pick her up soon enough she starts to pout calling my name more firmly. I have to assure her, “One second and then I’ll pick you up, I promise,” if I want to take my coat off.
She hugs me, she laughs and she hugs me some more. She is shining so full of love that it’s almost blinding.
What strikes me most about my Ladybug beyond how blessed I am to have her (and her siblings) is how openly and freely she shares her love. It’s not just with me, but with everyone.
She is a living and breathing embodiment of love. She is love.
She loves openly and freely without fear because that’s the way she was born into the world and she’s still young enough that she hasn’t been jaded, twisted or cracked as a result of sharing her love.
She is still connected to the Divine and sees everyone as a friend.
As an expression of her love Ladybug frequently wants to hug people.
She waves hello to everyone. She hugs other babies and kids at parks. It’s perfectly normal for her to go up to another child, look them in the eye and immediately hug them. Most kids hug her back or are completely caught off guard but don’t seem to mind. She hugs them for as long as she seems to feel they need it (or she needs it) and then she lets go and goes about her business.
She even tries to hug adults that she sees.
This past weekend she wanted to go from my arms to the arms of a woman standing next to us at Philz coffee shop. She put her hands out to the woman and launched herself into the woman’s arms before the woman could say anything.
The woman and I both looked at each other, uncomfortable.
“Well, hello,” the woman said to Ladybug eyeing me cautiously, as if I were a lioness that might bite her for coming too close to my cub.
I was hesitant but didn’t immediately pull Ladybug from her arms because Ladybug hugged the woman tighter and put her head on the woman’s shoulder. A real hug brimming with love.
The woman relaxed and so did I (though just a teensy bit). The woman thanked her for the hug and for the love and just held her while the woman and I made small talk. Then they called out my order and I told Ladybug it was time to go. She released the stranger, came willingly into my arms and told her new friend goodbye.
The woman still seemed dazed by the unexpected baby love-by as we walked out the door.
See, it’s natural to love and to be kind. Maybe Ladybug could sense that the woman needed a hug, or maybe the woman looked friendly, or maybe Ladybug was annoyed I wouldn’t let her grab things and throw them and she thought the woman might. Whatever the reason, Ladybug was unafraid and greeted a stranger with a hug.
There is something both profoundly moving and profoundly sad about that whole exchange.
The profoundly moving is the fact that the ability to love freely is something within all of us. It is still there inside you and inside me if we allow ourselves to access it. With every interaction we have with a stranger, we can choose to treat them like a long lost friend. We can treat them with kindness and an emotional hug of sorts.
(A baby jumping into the arms of a stranger is nonthreatening but an adult may doing the same thing may be met with a more hostile response. And possibly pepper spray so kindness should be thoughtful and respective of a person’s space.)
The profoundly sad part of the whole exchange is that, as a parent, I have to teach my child that she can’t just love and hug on every person she sees. Because some people are creeps, and that is the reality of the world we live in. Sometimes the expression of something so innocent and so natural is dangerous.
All “people can suck” lines of thinking aside Ladybug reminded me that loving is natural and now I’m reminding you.
It’s our natural state to perceive everyone with love and kindness; to treat everyone as if they were a brother. By simply smiling at people, expressing kindness and giving folks the benefit of the doubt we can slowly but surely heal the world.
The next time you’re in line at the coffee shop or Safeway or the post office, make like a baby and greet the people who are around you. Not only will you brighten their day but your own.