I fear I might be getting to that stage with my daughter Joan, who is 8, whereby I am the needy one!
When she was little, and especially as a baby, she didn’t have any say in how often I kissed, hugged, squeezed, cuddled, held, and pinched her little cheeks. Now she has much more of a say and she is saying no more often.
My heart breaks a little each time and I am left with a bit of an empty feeling. I crave her hugs and kisses so much and to be told “No, mommy”, really hurts.
It started in public. Say at collection time from school, I would bend down for a quick peck on the cheek only to miss her as she darted past me to catch up with her friends for a play. Or after the walk from the school to the car I would ask for a hug before she jumped in and she would say “not now mommy!”
She isn’t angry at me for asking for hugs and kisses, she just isn’t interested sometimes now, where when she was younger, she always wanted them, 100% of the time!
The other day we were grocery shopping and she was pushing the trolley. I leaned in for a cuddle as I often do, and I noticed she looked around for other people, and when she spotted another kid, she gently pushed me away.
This has happened a good few times when we are out and about. So I just try to leave it and let her come to me for affection, which she does, when no one else is in sight.
But in recent weeks it has escalated to not wanting hugs when we are at home, sometimes even when there is no one for me to embarrass her in front of! This really took me by surprise.
When I asked her why she won’t hug as much she said: “Mom, you have to respect my personal space.”
Cue the sound of a heart crunching but also she is right, and I do. I have to teach her that she is in control of her personal space. That only she has a say in if people hug her or not and who gets to do that.
This is a message we instil in our kids from a very young age, but as parents we often think we are excluded from this and we aren’t.
I will from now on, as much as it pains me, have to let her take the lead on this. For the next little while, she will have to set the agenda, especially in public. I can’t force her into a hug, she will have to initiate it, as otherwise I do run the risk of agitating or upsetting her. It is just another step down that long line that attaches parent and child from birth really.
Each year they get older, they move a notch away from us and as tough and emotionally upsetting as it can be for us parents, we have to accept it.
Having said this, she still is affectionate, she always hugs first thing in the morning and at bedtime too and we still get the random squeezes when doing homework, playing games or when I am making dinner and feel her little arms around my waist. It’s just not as consistent anymore.
I teared up a bit even writing this. I can’t imagine a day when she won’t let me hug her at all, but that day may come. I was always very close to my parents and my sister and I never stopped hugging them, but it often happens. Kids move away from their parents, we embarrass them and the last thing they want to do is hug us!
The positive news is it doesn’t last forever and that long line circles back and connects again to a time when our children do want affection and seek out those all important hugs.