One of the biggest changes in my life has been in mothering. When my girls were younger, mothering was a very tactile experience. My hours were spent bathing, changing diapers, feeding, nursing, rocking, holding, and snuggling. I miss putting baby oil on a freshly bathed little girl. I miss brushing and combing and styling hair. I miss pressing my nose to the back of a babies neck and inhaling that lovely smell. I miss kissing feet and hands and tummies and little bald heads. And oh, how I miss, rocking and snuggling and holding. The physicality of mothering babies and children is pure bliss…and so fleeting.
Now that my girls are older, there isn’t much physical contact. I get a few daily hugs from some, and I force hugs on others, but our physical connections are getting thinner. Instead, our connections are more mental and emotional… and more complicated. I think my daughters know that I love them, but with less physical contact, they sometimes don’t feel that I love them. They don’t tell me this directly, but I sense it in other things they say. And I’ve realized that the best way right now for me to keep that connection and help them feel loved is to do things for them.
So, sometimes I do things for my kids that they can do for themselves . Not because I feel manipulated or they are lazy, but because I love them and they need to know that. That is why last night I made chocolate chip pancakes at 9:30 p.m. for my 13 year-old. That is why I let my 17 year-old drive my car sometimes instead of her’s. That is why I still tuck my 11 year-old in at night. That is why I buy treats and flowers and watch movies with my married daughter and her husband when they come to visit. Somehow, their asking and my doing helps us to feel that connection again…they know that they can depend on me to feel their needs at that moment.
This asking and doing is not a daily occurrence…I strongly believe that my girls need to be independent. But, when it does happen, they are usually good for a while. Sometimes their lives are difficult and stressful and they might ask more often. I’m trying to be more sensitive to that and say “yes” more than I usually do. So a few weeks ago when Riley asked if I would decorate the Easter tree “because it isn’t the same unless you do it, mom,” I said “yes.” And then I hugged her, twice.