Grasping at Straws

No one was around when it happened, but I got a hug yesterday that turned my world around. I was feeling pretty alone in a crowd of people, and I don’t think anyone else realized what that hug did for me.

It’s been another rocky week around here. I’m doing my best to stay positive and keep a good attitude, but as one of my favorite bloggers said in her post for today, “Life is full of overwhelm.” I’m dealing with money problems, small-town-gossip issues, a broken lawnmower, a job opportunity that fell through, and now there’s a dead mouse in my basement. Life is sucking big-time right now, and not even bothering to use a pretty curly straw.

To be honest, life isn’t really all that bad.  We’re all healthy, and there’s been a lot of good stuff going on, too.  I’ve got my book signing tomorrow, and a possible girls’ night out with a couple of old friends; there’s a visit from my sister and a new used laptop from a friend, and the little store in town just started carrying Toblerone. If I could get Netflix to work on my TV so I could watch something with Randolph Mantooth or Eric Allan Kramer, I’d be content.


It’s just that I argued with some friends this week, and that hurts. They weren’t my best friends, not by a long shot. But they were friends, and life is too short to let any friends go easily. We might not have shared our deepest secrets with each other, but we enjoyed each other’s company. To put it differently, they were the kind of friends who might not have gone into the basement for the mouse for me, but they would have stood at the top of the stairs and squealed in sympathy while I did it myself.

When this passes over – and it will – it’s going to be hard for me to smile and go on with these people as though nothing has happened. I’ll do it because that’s what grown-ups do; I’ll encourage our kids to play together and we’ll all sit together in the bleachers during the different sports seasons. We’ll fall back into the same routines, the same patterns, and I’ll have to remind myself not to hold a grudge. It’ll be a struggle, but everything will be just fine.

For right now, my feelings are hurt. I feel like my soul has been bruised.

There are so many people out there with real problems. It’s foolish to waste even one minute stressing myself out over some petty he-said-she-said rumors and silliness. I just needed something or someone to give me a little kick in the butt or slap upside the head to remind me to prioritize this mess in the appropriate manner.

And that’s where the hug came in.

When I go to the elementary school to pick up my son at the end of the day, there’s a little girl who refuses to smile at me. Absolutely refuses. She’s an utterly adorable and very opinionated little girl with a strong and unique personality. I always ask her if today is the day I’m going to get a “Molly-smile,” and she takes a long, serious moment to study me and consider my question before shaking her head and walking away. Our little routine has become a high point of some of my days.

Yesterday was my rough day.  I was wallowing in self-pity and seriously considering plans for the evening that involved devouring the equivalent of my body weight in food that’s really, really bad for me; I had a hard time holding my head up and ignoring the whispers when I walked by the cluster of friends who are so upset with me. For a few minutes, I felt like a self-conscious sixth-grader trying to find a safe place to sit in the cafeteria on the first day of middle school. I wished my little boy was big enough to walk himself home from school so I didn’t have to face any of those people.

And then, out of the blue, I didn’t get a Molly-smile.

I got a Molly-hug.

God alone knows why that child chose yesterday, of all days, to run up and hug me. She never said a word. Just trotted up, threw her tiny arms around me for a split second, and ran back to her mother.

That was all it took to put things back into perspective for me.

Life is short. Sometimes, it’s “full of overwhelm.” But the world is always going to keep turning; tomorrow’s going to come, the sun is going to rise, and life is going to go on with or without our permission.  We can hang onto hurt and anger and self-pity, or we can allow ourselves to thaw in the warmth that comes from a child’s hug.

We can focus on the bad or we can embrace the good.

We can complain about the mouse in the basement or we can put on our big girl panties and march down there, get the damn thing, and move on with life.

And I guess, if life is going to suck sometimes, we might as well give it some pretty curly straws and enjoy the show.


This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “No one was around when it happened…” This week’s FTSF is hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, Lisa at Flingo and Jessica from Ramblings of an add mommy

Author: A.J. Goode

I am a romance novelist, single mother of three, and a high school lunchlady. To be completely honest, I have no idea which of those jobs is the most rewarding and which is the biggest challenge. I love them all. I write romance novels about the kind of people who might pass me on the street every day. My characters are often hurting in some way, and need to learn to trust others in order to heal themselves. I also blog about trying to focus on writing, and about my day-to-day experiences in small-town America. I write about life. The good, the bad, and the just plain odd.

13 thoughts on “Grasping at Straws”

  1. Ohhh beautiful child – she must have noticed you were sad, and weren’t in the mood to play your usual game with her. What a lovely, giving soul. I’m glad she gave you that hug, and that fresh perspective.

    And it’s okay to be hurt and sad, even when there are ‘bigger problems’ out there and people with ‘real’ pain – undermining your own upset is rarely productive – just accept it, embrace it as it is, and decide what you’re going to DO next. Because feelings don’t have to rule you, even if sometimes they’re impossible to get away from.


    1. Thank you so much. She’s a pretty smart 3 year-old, and obviously pretty tuned-in to the feelings of others. And pretty darned cute, too!

      It’s hard to give ourselves permission to be hurt and sad, isn’t it? Thanks for the reminder that I don’t have to let those feelings rule me!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry that your friends are treating you poorly – please know that it’s totally okay in my book for you to feel sad about that. The fact that there is tragedy in the world in no way negates the hurt we feel over people we care about betraying us and our feelings. Sigh. I have a similar situation and it’s almost impossible to not be sad. But Molly! A Molly hug!
    Ugh to the nasty mouse. I’m a wimp about things like that big time! Thanks for linking up with FTSF again! You rock! (also HUGS from me) xxoo


  3. This is such a beautiful weaving of emotions, the good and the bad, the sad and the upcoming happy. Children totally feel our vibe and know exactly how to respond. I’m so glad she knew what you needed and sorry about the situation with the friends. It sucks to feel like we’re the ones in middle school all over again. Thanks, too for the shout out ❤ I'm with you in the overwhelm friend and would totally go with you to the basement to get rid of that mouse!


  4. Chica, I’d totally come over and take care of the dead mouse for you if I lived even in the same time zone. After cleaning up all of the stuff that comes out of, along with, and frankly out of nowhere from two boys, dead mice don’t even phase me. Get a grocery sack, a stick, and that sucker is history. You can do it!

    Oh yes, I should says, your writing was pretty (AJ) Goode too. (tee hee)

    Sorry about the “friendship” thing. Poopy-poop, as #2 son used to say when he was young enough to say things like that.


    1. Love the pun, Anna! I wish you lived closer, too — I ended up using my tried-and-true method of dustpan, lots of gagging, and a dash to the dumpster. Yuck, I hate mice.


  5. You know, sometimes children see right into our need and our souls. I am sorry you are having a rough time of it, truly. You are right though, it is simply a space in time.

    {{{{ ❤ }}}}


Got an opinion? Please share it here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: