Saturday, August 26, 2006

This post has no title

Her Bad Mother put up this post the other day and challenged people to write about the physical love they feel for their kids. It's a difficult subject, since it's easy to make it sound...well, just plain wrong.

I wasn't raised by demonstrative parents. They didn't snuggle and cuddle and kiss and hug. They were reserved, to the point of coldness. I don't ever remember my mother or my father spontaneously hugging me. They just didn't do it. My mother actually discouraged it. She couldn't handle emotions of any kind - tears or joy would make her tense up and get angry. She's still that way today.

I can't say that I felt deprived, since I didn't know any different, but I was a bit fearful of my parents. I didn't feel that they were all that interested in my thoughts or interests, so I didn't talk to them about it. I lived inside my head, mostly, and was slightly jealous of the relationships my friends seemed to have with their mothers.

Then I had children. I couldn't stop looking at them, touching their soft cheeks as they slept, nibbling on their toes as they lay in my lap, brushing their heads as they nursed. I can't seem to keep my hands off them. I hug them, I kiss them, I tickle them. I love the feel of their warm little bodies when they sit next to me. I love to feel O's head on my shoulder when she's tired. I love to brush her hair and feel the weight of it as it falls thru my fingers. I love to blow raspberries on The Boo's tummy and listen to her squeals and giggles. I love how she runs to me and throws her arms around me and says "Hugs, mama! Hugs!" I love her slobbery toddler kisses on my face. I love to rub noses with her and stare into her blue eyes until we both start giggling. I love that The Bug has dark hair and I stroke it constantly, amazed that I finally have a child with my hair colour. I love to hold her against my chest as she falls asleep, to feel that skin on skin contact and to breath in her intoxicating baby smell.

I want to envelop them with affection. I want them to feel unconditionally loved, to feel able to give and recieve physical affection without stiffening up or pulling away. Now that I know what I missed as a child, I want to make sure my children don't have the same experience

I think there's part of me that wants to keep a piece of them with me, too. I crave their presence when they're not here. It's a physical ache when I'm away from them, a desire to get home and hug them, to sweep them into my arms and bury my face in their necks and just inhale them.

I never thought I would feel this way. Most of my friends would tell you that I'm pretty reserved, not given to spontaneous, public displays of affection. But when it comes to my kids, it's a whole different kettle of ball games.


Minnesota Nice said...

Your kiddos are lucky to have you.
I grew up in an icy Scandinavian family where emotions were a big taboo, but I also think it was a generational thing.
I hug my friends, neighbors, mailman, grocery clerk and have come very close to hugging my opthalmologist last time he gave me good report. (We settled for a "high 5" instead.)
Sure adds a lot of sweetness to my life.

Anonymous said...

I just love Kathy's comment.
Sure, I relate to this, Julia. My parents were and are the same way. My mom *thinks* of herself as a warm, emotional person, but when it comes down to it, the only emotion she can tolerate is a very static form of Pollyanna-ish cheer. Anger or saddness are too threatening for her, and she won't hear of these sentiments, no way! Her hugs feel nervous and cool. It saddens me, I can't help it. It feels very cold and rejecting. Whenever I've expressed any kind of anger or even simple malaise, she's said, "How dare you 'put' this on me!!!!"
The loss of that physicality is a serious one. I'm so sorry, Julia, that you didn't get to feel that. I'm so happy that your children will!

Mamma Sarah said...


I'm new to your blog via beanandsprout. Thanks for the inspiring post. It's exactly what my hubby is dealing with, with his parents. Their "love" is with strings attached, so it's not really love at all.

I feel very fortunate to have had parents who were all about "beaking the mold" of exactly what you were talking about. I myself am a new mom and feel exactly how you feel about you kids. Lots of love, hugs, and kisses!!!

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I think we, the children of less than demonstrative parents, make a point of showing as much love as legally possible to our children. Maybe we're making up for something. I don't know. All I know is your children are lucky to have you.

Nicole P said...

Man, Julia. Way to make me want little ones of my own. You're going to cause trouble.

Bob's family NEVER touches one another - and my family - we never stop hugging and loving one another. It's odd to watch his family say hello and goodbye to one another without a single touch between them - even on Christmas, etc...

My nephew, Milton, gives the best hugs and little kisses, patting his hand gently on your back and saying awwww as he snuggles his face into your neck or shoulder. There is truly nothing like it.

rae ann said...

such an interesting topic. my family is as cold as an alaskan breeze. my mom's not at all affectionate and i think my dad wants to be but doesn't know how. to their credit, they're getting better as they get older, but i remember wanting to just be snuggled as a 4 year old and wondering why my mom wouldn't hold me that way but my grandma would. very confusing. i feel like you do reguarding my urchins. i can't get enough of them and i want them to know it. i love to touch stella's curls, kiss her toes, and nuzzle her neck. ivy's smell is so new and sweet that i constantly have my nose in her thin hair. and she already loves to be kissed. i never want my kids to feel like i didn't show them enough affection and like they missed out (like i often do).

Joke said...

With all the Spain/Italy genes in my pool, my childhood was one long hug 'n' kiss festival. When I'm reading to my kids, I'll absentmindedly, reflexively, stroke their hair or lean and kiss their foreheads.

My poor Irish BiL and his family are at a loss to deal with us. Just the idea of containing your emotions is not only accepted, but the converse is actually unthinkable.

Weird, huh?


Andrea said...

I so know what you mean. I love to nibble me some baby toes, too. Unfortunately I just discovered that my baby boy's feet went to stinky man feet and nibbling toes just isn't recommended anymore. They're not so baby-powder fresh anymore. I'm sad about that. I told my hubs that it's time to have another one just so I can get my daily allowance of baby feets.

Kelsey said...

I'm from a famiy of huggers and I cannot wait to have little ones to love on! :)

Great post Julia!

OhTheJoys said...

I've been reading all these posts related to HBM's. I love yours!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm from easta Wista! Wicked!

Also: Great post.

Allison said...

I've never really had that big maternal instinct urge... But that post makes me want to have a baby.

Not now.

Don't worry.

Not for a loooong ass while.