January 18, 2013
I am not a touchy-feely person. I give hugs and such, and certainly cuddle my little ones a ton, but once the kids reach a certain age (not sure what age that is) the naturalness and spontaneity of hugging disappears. It simply is not a natural response of mine. I have to think about it. It is hard for me to remember to do; it needs be apart of my consciousness for me to reach out and hug. I also do not naturally accept hugs. It simply is not second nature for me to hug; my kids, my siblings, my parents. I simply am not a person who needs it in heaping plate fulls - a small side portion is just right for me; its not my love language. I am a person who frequently gives the physical contact of saying "I care" or "I love you" or anything in that line. I will say it with my words,and such. I just do not display it with touch; not naturally.
While I am not a touchy-feely person, I do realize that others are and need it in greater doses than I, namely my children (even though they be unaware of that need). I have become a believer that my children need to receive hugs from me; an extension and exclamation that I do indeed love them unconditionally. Physical touch via a hug can calm, heal, and give a person a sense of belonging, acceptance and peace; a positive emotional state is felt even if fleeting. Weird that I believe that even though I don't feel the need to receive it all that much, and its hard for me to give without thought. Since I do believe it, I have decided to take a purposeful step towards hugging my children on a daily basis. I like to hug my children; it feels good and right and says to them "I love you" - I hope they receive it in that manner. With that said, I will never be that person who can give a hug to anyone, I do have boundaries that will not change up radically, but hopefully I will become the person who can give spontaneous and purposeful hugs to her older children and continue with the younger ones as they grow, and to give hugs to siblings,and close friends --- all without much forethought and effort. I am not going to get carried away with this, and just start throwing around hugs, and simple touch to just anyone; that would be false, you know, boundaries. I will start with my children and allow the hugs to flow daily and freely, and then, hopefully, my giving of hugs to them will come naturally without having to remind myself to do so. (by children, I mean my older ones as my younger ones are still in the range of my daily spontaneously giving of hugs...they ask for them too).
This need to hug my children daily came to the forefront of my mind when I recently read a 10 Point Manifesto of Joyful Parenting by Ann Voskamp, a holy experience, and also posted on One Thousand Gifts. I don't like that title much, but the points are solid; some I already do,and several others I need to incorporate into my life. I cannot incorporate all at once; habit would not be formed well, failure would be high. I have zeroed in on number 8 - "Today, I will hug each of my children as many times as I serve them meals--because children's hearts feed on touch. I'll look for as many opportunities to touch my children today as possible---the taller they are, the more so." That last part, "the taller they are, the more so" struck me as very much needed, and it made me feel that I am not alone in that I don't hug or touch my older children nearly as much as I do the younger but yet they still need it as much if not more.
I am starting with the act of hugging my children every time they leave the house. From there, I will work in hugging them when they arrive back home, to the other simple touches as opportunities arise; touch on the back, a foot rub upon request, hair brushed, kiss on the check, etc.
Eva-Marie (17) and Elizabeth's (15) reaction are of bewilderment. Evie has commented a few times with a "What is going on? "Something wrong?" To simply a look of, are you nuts mom? They both try to avoid, but I pursue. This morning they ran to the car that Evie drives, and locked the doors. So of course, I knocked on the window to purposefully act silly, and then stated...."at least give me a high five." Evie did, with a smile.
Ben (22) is not around much, but he too will receive hugs from me. Elliana (13) easily accepts my hugs, and always has- I want that to continue along with our morning departure phrase that we say to each other of "Peace and Joy to you this day." (a phrase I am now saying to the other children)
I love my children, even when I go berserk on them. I want them to know I love them, and feel it with touch.
Once I have #8 under solidly underway, I will tackle another area of the 10 Point Manifesto of Joyful Parenting. Ultimately, I want joy in my heart and home. -and that ultimate need/goal is for another Journal to Myself entry....what is joy? hmmm....
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
While searching for the manifesto link, I stumbled upon 10+ Real Helps for the Busy Mom, and 10 Grace Prayers for Joyful Parenting which are very similar to the manifesto but different as well. I am going to keep these ones handy in my Evernote file. They can be found at a holy experience, 10 Point Manifesto of Joyful Parenting post; scroll down until you see the link for "Download a Free Copy of the Manifesto of Joyful Parenting."