I then remembered a piece that my friend and author, Estelle Erasmus, and I published on Elephant Journal back in March about the importance of hugging and kissing our children throughout their lives.
I realized that touch is the one way I can connect with all three of my kids, regardless of their different ages, and help us all feel a bit more comforted at a time when there is such uncertainty all around us.
I am very grateful to Estelle for allowing me to share this piece with you on the Dishwasher.
What Wise Moms Know: The Priceless (Healthy) Gift of Hugs and Kisses
Want to improve your children’s lives?
Studies show that hugging someone you love can ease their stress and anxiety, and kissing your kids helps them become resilient adults.
Here two moms write about the importance of hugs and kisses with their kids—of varying ages. The bottom line: showing affection never gets old.
Hugs in Progress by Kathy Radigan
The other night I was in my bed peacefully sleeping next to my husband when I was awoken by loud knocking and the cries of my youngest child saying, “Open the door mommy, I need a hug.”
I wasn’t thrilled to be shocked out of my slumber, but I was grateful that all it took to make a nine-year-old nightmare better was a hug from me.
I could feel my stress and annoyance melt away as his skinny arms wrapped around me. All of a sudden my cozy bed didn’t hold as much appeal.
My days of being comforter-in-chief feel numbered. Peter is now the only member of my family that is shorter than I am.
When I want to hug my 16-year-old son, Tom, I have to stand on my toes. His once soft baby cheeks are now in need of a shave. One minute he wants to be left alone, and the next he wants my undivided attention.
Truth be told, he doesn’t always act so huggable.
But he still needs them. I sometimes forget that.
Especially when he flashes me some lovely teen attitude or acts surprised that once again the sun has risen, and it’s time for school.
Yesterday Tom was hunched over the dining room table studying for a test. Mountains and mountains of paper were all around him. I was tempted to comment on his lack of organization. But as I looked into his big blue eyes I knew he didn’t need a lesson—he needed a hug.
I put my arms around him, and I could feel him relax.
My hugs are still magic.
Our Kissing Ritual by Estelle Erasmus
I am getting ready to leave the house, and a lilting voice stops me. “Mommy, don’t forget my kiss,” says my daughter. I’m always happy to oblige.
There is a famous nursery rhyme that says, “There was a little girl with a little curl in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very good and when she was bad she was horrid.
That verse reminds me of my five-year-old, who has the emotional makeup of an adolescent seesawing back and forth between wanting closeness with her mama and oh-so-fiercely demanding independence.
I worry that our fights over her not wanting to wear a coat in the winter (a non-negotiable), or carrying on when she doesn’t get ice cream after devouring birthday cake at a party (have you seen the sugar monster she turns into?) will derail our closeness as she grows older
Studies show that a close bond between mother and daughter can mitigate some of the storms of adolescence.
Although I have always kissed and cuddled with her since she was an infant, as she grew I’ve created a kissing ritual that she craves. It goes like this: I kiss her in the morning, I kiss her at bedtime and I kiss her before I leave the house to do an errand.
These aren’t perfunctory kisses either. These are not subtle pecks on the cheek; these are “come here honey let me love you and gobble you up” kinds of kisses.
Now she asks for them, “Mommy, please don’t forget my kiss.” And I don’t. Ever.
In these kisses, which she returns, she can rest safe in my love, and I in hers, no matter the storms that come between.
Estelle Erasmus is a journalist and former magazine editor who has been published in The Washington Post On Parenting, Salon, Newsweek, Purple Clover, Brain, Child, Marie Claire and more. She blogs at Musings on Motherhood & Midlife. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.