I mentioned yesterday that I had the urge to kiss a man I’d never spoken with before. While that may sound shocking, I’ve got a worse confession:
Sometimes I’m sitting across the table or the room from my children–particularly the older four, who are turning into actual people–and I have this surge of maternal pride, and I think, “You know, I could just kiss you, right in the middle of the forehead. You are that awesome.”
But I don’t. Ever.
Not kissing the man on the airplane? Totally understandable. My own children? See, that’s where it gets fuzzy.
Here’s what I want to know: What day, precisely, did I stop touching my children? When did I go from rocking them to sleep and chucking them under the chin to… this? When did we pass the point of no return?
And let me assure you that there really is a point of no return. If my mother were to kiss me on the forehead at this point, I’d be pretty freaked out. (No seriously, Mom. Don’t do it. I’ll move to Kentucky, and then you’ll have to live out the rest of your life in guilt that I no longer have a job.)
Honestly, I’m pretty uncomfortable even with hugs. Particularly if we know each other very well. Strangers in distress? Not a problem. Elderly women I know only by name? Totally fine. My own children? Not a chance. In fact, you can probably measure my affection for you by the inverse of how many times I’ve hugged you in the past thirty years.
I know it doesn’t make any sense. But that’s how it is. I wish it were different, but I’ve genuinely tried to be one of those touchy-feely types, and it’s like trying to inhale oatmeal. Through my nostrils.
My point is this–I don’t think it had to be this way. My point is that if you have little children you are rocking right now, don’t ever let that last hug happen. Pull them down on your lap every day for the rest of their lives–because if you stop, even for a nanosecond, they will morph into adults, and then if you hug them, they’ll mostly want to punch you.
I’m not saying you can’t have a good relationship without, you know, hugging, because I think I have a pretty good one with my adult and almost adult children.But I am starting to foresee some possibly awkward moments: you know–those times when families typically hug each other? Weddings. Funerals. Significant departures.
There aren’t very many good replacements for a hug as a socially acceptable way to say goodbye. You don’t think about that when your children are small. You plan ahead for the tuition and the plane fare and the empty bedroom; you don’t think about how you’re going to say goodbye at the boarding gate, or hello two years later. You know? So just… don’t quit. That’s all. You’re welcome.