Cheek to cheek. Chest to chest. And a slight rock back and forth, back and forth. Every night near 11pm, just as I am stretching my body out in bed and closing my eyes for the night, I hear soft cries echoing through the baby monitor. I swing my legs over the side of the bed, grumpily rub my tired eyes and tired back, and I tiptoe up the stairs to Felicity's temporary bedroom and scoop her up in my arms. I nuzzle my nose into her soft, warm neck, and I breathe her in before I let her nurse. After she finishes nursing (by biting me I'm afraid), she whines because she knows I'm going to leave her alone again, and she rests her arms around my neck, almost as if she is giving me a hug. It is the sweetest hug. And it is the reason I continue to get up every night and nurse her, even though I know it's about time she learned to sleep through the night. Just before I lay her down in the bed, I rest her body horizontally in my arms, and I bring my cheek and chest to hers, and I rock back and forth, back and forth.

Cheek to cheek. Chest to chest. Hugs. After 6+ years and thousands of hours as a parent, I truly believe the hug is the greatest solution to nearly every problem. (This might alarm some of you that know me as the non-touchy type.) I only recently discovered this after much trial and error with Elle, and boy, how I wish I could have a few years back and about a thousand screaming matches back with Mya. Whenever Elle is in full meltdown mode or being completely rebellious, I have learned to kneel down, grab one of her dimpled hands, and bring her close to me. I smother her face in my chest and hug her so tight until I feel her body lose the tension it so quickly built up in a moment of anger, and then I bring her cheek to mine, and we talk about whatever misunderstanding I may have inadvertently caused. And although we talk things through, I really think all she ever needs is a hug. With each hug, we melt into each other like ice cream on a summer day, and we shake off (fitting I think because it is her favorite song) whatever might be bothering us.

A few weeks ago, Mya explained to me how she felt when I yelled at her about dropping things on the floor. It was basically a pie to the face, and not a delicious pie. I sat there, embarrassed that for all these years I had never really tried to see Mya's side to things. I just figured she ought to know better because she's the oldest, which basically meant she should act like a 20 year old. I asked her what I could do to reverse all the tangled webs I had created by not really listening to her, and she looked at me and simply said, "Hug me." I looked at her curiously, and suddenly she was the wisest 6 year old I had ever met. Of course!! A hug!! She is just a bigger version of my 2 year old, and life is still so big and new to her, even though I often forget that. And so I said, "Alright, I'll hug you. And I'll mean it when I do it." (Because we all know what it's like to get a limp noodle hug, right?) And for the past few weeks, I haven't felt the need to yell at her as much. We hug a lot. And I'm actually enjoying it. It's like I've learned this secret side to her, and I'm not about to forget it anytime soon.

So that's it. Hugs. That's my best kept secret as to why I have been extra happy lately as a mom. Things have felt so good and wonderful with the girls lately, and I'm almost afraid that by writing this I might jinx myself, but I felt so compelled to share my secret after exiting Felicity's room tonight because those warm hugs are something even Olaf couldn't imagine.

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