My family was never lovey dovey. I vaguely remember that we would hug and kiss our parents before going to bed. I never thought anything of it, it was just the way it was. It also meant that when we saw each other after returning from school breaks, vacations, or summer camp that our way of greeting each other upon arrival was to give a hug and a kiss. As I got older it started to feel a bit strange. Maybe not as much when I kissed my grandma, but definitely I thought about it when I hugged and kissed my dad. Somehow my sister and I just avoided it all together by not even hugging each other. Over time as my mom, dad, and grandma gradually died, there was no one left to hug and kiss hello or goodbye, so it was not something that I thought about much.
I recently read this blog: “Do you kiss your babies on the mouth? Or your parents?” It made me think about what we expect from kids. I am absolutely smitten with my nine month old niece and I want to love and dote on her, snuggle, and make her laugh, but I also want to be conscious of not making her feel like she has to do anything she does not want to do. I would rather her come to me and snuggle when she wants to, and yet that is hard for me. I have such a voracious strong love for her — so how do I hold myself back and let her come to me and yet still show her my extreme love?
It also makes me think about what I would do as a parent. I love the idea from the blog of how the dad decided to kiss on the head, and not on the lips. It allows kids to make their own choices and not feel like they have to kiss back. While I think at times that a hug is harmless, I also would never want to force my kids to hug anyone that they do not want to hug (See past blog: Consent: No means no). I have a hunch that my parents never even took the time to think about what was right, or what they felt was important. My hunch is that they replicated what happened for them during their childhood.
Yet, is it not a little strange to teach kids to kiss on the lips (unless they willingly decide to do so)? If you have kids, how have you thought about this? Hugs and kisses? Hugs only? Kisses on the head?
Feeling vulnerable. Feeling safe. Which one drives the choices you make on a day-to-day basis? Over the past ten years I have gone from being guarded, closed, and keeping things inside, to being so transparent I probably make others wince. I have no filter, and say what is on my mind. Yet, I know there are people in my life that I do not tell enough how much they mean to me, and how much I love them.
I did not grow up in a lovey-dovey house. In his final few years my dad was a hugger, but it erked me. I could not remember him being like that when I was a kid, and he had so much anger and depression stored inside him I did not know if the hugs were genuine, or if it was his way to try to keep what was left of our family together. What is funny about growing up in an environment of non lovey-doviness, is that it is harder for me to be that way with family (of course with the exception of Chris and I imagine my future little ones). My future little one(s) most likely will get annoyed with my over the top, make sure they know I love them, gushy momness.
Yes, I am going to share another quote from “Bread & Wine” because it is just a great, wholesome book. Her thoughts on love and vulnerability made me think and ponder. It made me question why I sometimes hold my family a bit of a distance away, and why it is easier for me to bring friends, colleagues, and others to a closer distance. I am not going to tell you my findings, as I think they are still percolating within my thoughts, but wanted to share this quote in hopes that it might inspire you to think about those moments that happen where you can tell those close to you why you love them, and why they matter in your life.
“The heart of hospitality is creating space for these moments, protecting that fragile bubble of vulnerability and truth and love. It’s all too rare that we tell the people we love exactly why we love them—what they bring to our lives, why our lives are richer because they’re in it. We do it best, I think, with our nuclear family—most of us tell our children and spouses how much we love them easily and often.” Page 176
We do not solve our insecurities all at once in life, but I appreciate when the thoughts from an author or friend encourage us to look freshly at our life each day and find how we can do one little thing to pull apart the onion layers of our vulnerability, our fears, and our past issues, and look a little more closely at who we are and what scares us. Hopefully, it makes our life richer, more vibrant, lively, and connects us to what matters most.