I love that my daughter and her boyfriend greet each other with a hug. Their bodies mold into the embrace in the mutual offering of love and comfort. That is the beauty of a hug.
We’ve forgotten how to hug that way in my family, and if truth be told, I don’t think my husband and I every truly learned how to hug properly. When I was a teenager, working as a waitress, one of my coworkers surprised me with a spontaneous hug upon observing that I was having a challenging shift. My body stiffened in response. She noticed, but without being offended, she understood. Her understanding made me realize how complicated affection had been in my own family while growing up. There were plenty of hugs and kisses, but many of them were not wanted.
When my children were little I relished every hug and snuggle I got, and my one regret was that I didn’t do more to keep the hugs a normal part of our daily life. Too many comments were made about the dependency of affection and raising independent strong, children (mostly directed at the bond between my son and me), and somehow, over time, I gave them away. And so did he. My daughter, who was always more independent, never seemed to need my hugs. Or so I thought.
But I know better now. She gives hugs freely to those who seek them with her, while I am still working my way back those easy hugs with her. And her brother. We have begun to talk about it as a family. It’s not an easy conversation. There is baggage to unload, but it is necessary. Even teenagers need to be hugged. And often. They may not initiate the hug, just as they have a right not to have the hug forced upon them, but that doesn’t mean they are not seeking that connection.
So I am working my way back to those regular embraces, perhaps too carefully as I am overly sensitive about overstepping bounds, but I have found the journey not only rewarding and healing, but necessary. Everyone thrives on love and there is nothing that compares to a mutually loving hug where two hearts join together enfolded by the comfort of arms.