On hugging

A hug is a strangle you haven’t finished Jenny The Bloggess

The last week or so of work has been CRAPTASTIC but I am not here to talk about that. I want to talk about hugging.

I am not a physically touchy person. If you ever talked to me in person, you would note that I talk with my hands extensively, my facial expressions and vocal emphasis take over where punctuation and capitalization leave off here in the written medium. I am a bit dynamic in my interpersonal communications. But I don’t really enjoy being in physical contact with other people. Check that. I really don’t like it at all. Never have either. I was not the cuddly, kissy face huggy bear kid. A hand shake would have taken the place of all familial demonstrations of affection if I had had my way when I was small. My mother had to make a special effort to whisper in my ear whenever we were arriving or departing from my grandparents house “Now don’t forget to give them a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and don’t make a face.” At least that is how I remember it. I got adept at the quick hug and peck and that was just fine until some time when I was in high school, and I was at my boyfriend’s house for a family gathering. Some people were leaving and everyone was saying good bye, and all of a sudden the husband in the group was giving everyone a hug and a kiss. On the mouth. I may have passed out standing up. Never in all my days had anyone other than a boyfriend kissed me on the mouth. That just wasn’t what happened in my life.

Anywho, fast forward to being married and having a kid. As a dating/marrying person I have always been quite OK with physical contact with the object of  my affection. I am not THAT much of a cold fish. There are times when I am not all that interested in being touchy feely, like when I am washing dishes or have just finished working out, but in general I am good with it. And surprisingly I enjoy being cuddly and huggy (very technical term) with my child.

I love hugging him. Two of my favorite parts of the day are when I put him to bed at night and we cuddle for a bit as he falls asleep, and in the morning, if he has not gotten out of bed first, when I go to wake him up and get to snuggle for a few minutes again. I enjoy sitting on the couch and having him lean up against me. For the most part, it never feels like he is invading my space. Anyone else besides The Bob or the dogs sitting that close to me would illicit the immediate need to be somewhere else, in another room, another house, another planet.

But the kid has totally broken my vast and wide personal space zone. And I have begun to realize that this won’t happen forever. He will not need me, or want me, to snuggle with him before bed as we read a book when he is 16. He won’t always see me when I arrive to pick him up from the afterschool program, and fling himself into my body in a flying leap. It is his job to grow bigger, more independent. To move away from us as his parents and into his own life. And I while it is my job to facilitate this, to help him gain the skills to be that independent person who can read his own books and put himself to bed, part of me will be sad to lose this thing we have. This closeness that exists in this space between being a baby and being a person conscious of his body, being self conscious about things.

I would still rather shake hands with most people than hug, but I appreciate that from the moment I found out this being existed inside of me he began making structural changes to my world, my life, my psyche. I am a better person for it, I think.



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2 responses to “On hugging

  1. Aw, you made me a little teary-eyed with this one.

    I am not a hugger, at all. I don’t even like to shake hands. Whenever I meet a colleague of my husband’s for the first time, if he already knows the person is a hugger (or worse, a kisser, who does that to someone they hardly know? A lot of people, unfortunately), then he will warn me ahead of time, “So and so likes to hug, so be prepared.”

  2. I love your writing and I’m not a hugger either however I am such a people pleaser (mostly recovering but some insane habits die hard) that I hug when I don’t want to.

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