A new year. A chance to try again

A new year.  A chance to try again, start over, reevaluate, and reapply old strategies.

One year as I began a new year, I went over some things that I had been learning and realized that I did not touch my children as often as I had when they were littler.  With a 12 year old, an 11 year old, an 8 year old, and two five year olds, I was busy!  I cooked for them, read to them, listened to them read, cleaned the kitchen, did laundry, etc., but I had forgotten to touch.  I had not grown up in a touchy feely home, so touching did not come natural to me.  When the boys were babies we snuggled and tickled and played on the floor.  But the house we lived in at this time was all tiled and wrestling on tile didn’t sound so great.  Even my husband began to realize that we weren’t hugging the kids as much. 

So I wrote the word touch in block letters, colored it in with colored pencils and stuck it to my refrigerator with one of those cute magnets with a row of babies on it.  I made it my goal to touch each of my kids in a meaningful way every day.  The twins were easy at age 5.  They still liked to cuddle after naps or before bed.  The older boys were a different story.  Touch required them to slow down.  My 8 year old was usually running through the house.  When I would reach out to touch his shoulder or pat him on the back, I noticed that he stopped, looked me in the eye and listened or talked to me without being coerced!!  The older two boys also began to respond to more touches.  A hand on the shoulders, a back rub, or a pat on the knee seemed to reassure them.

Then, wonders of all wonders, I began to see my boys stop and give me a hug or pat my arm.  Then I began to catch them beginning to touch each other more – a friendly slap on the back or an arm around the shoulders as they cheered each other on.  Touch is such a fundamental need.  As a mom, it was a natural instinct with my babies and toddlers.  But I had to relearn touch as they grew. 

Now they are adults.  None of my sons are married and when they were home for Christmas I noticed, once again, how they responded to loving touches.  My oldest would, at first, stiffen up, but then he would relax and by the end of two weeks, he was initiating hugs and not letting me go!  My second son would sit near me knowing he would get a back rub.  The third, very busy son, slowed down and laughed and played with his older brothers who both live out of state.  He let me hug him and rub his back more than usual, too.  The twins, at 17, are used to mom’s hugs and pats.  They just naturally hug me in the mornings, before leaving anywhere, and at night before bed. 

Touching changed our family.  It did not come naturally, but I am so glad now that we took the time years ago to make it a priority.  What about your busy home?  Do you take the time to touch, smile at one another, slow down, and listen?  Your kids will only be little for a while, but the relationship will last a lifetime, and your “babies” will never outgrow their mom’s and dad’s love touches.

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