A mom once told me that it was time for her to stop hugging her son because it meant that her breasts were coming into contact with him. Our sons were 8 years old at the time. I was pretty taken aback by this, and I am just going to say right now that my mind immediately jumped to the boys I have hugged in my life without this thought crossing my mind, and hopefully not their little minds either. I can’t help the fact that I am a hugger! The past year of not being able to show affection to my friends and family have been torture for someone like me and other softies I know.
I asked this mom if that also meant that her husband needed to stop hugging their daughter. It’s not quite the same, but it is the same, too, and oddly enough she didn’t have a response to that question.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I embrace random strangers’ children. I am a big fan of the side hug (one arm around the shoulder and a light squeeze). I know how to respect boundaries, at least a little, but my son’s friends, many of their little brothers, and their parents and guardians and I have great relationships. I think I have a good sense at this point in my life of who might be OK with a hug and who is not into hugging at all. That being said, was this mom really suggesting that I needed to stop showing affection to my own child because he was growing up?
This conversation made me wonder if I could have been doing things all wrong with my son. You see, I shower my son with hugs and kisses (yes, we peck on the lips, let the judging begin). When I drop him off at school, I roll down the window and yell, “I love you so much. School is for learning, learn all you can! You are my everything.” This is our little tradition, and I tell myself that he may act humiliated now, but that deep down, he likes it.
I have also made a point of making special plans for him and me to continue to strengthen our mother and son bond. When he was smaller, we would go to Lego conventions, the rodeo, and on nighttime bike rides.
Later on, I started organizing annual camping trips for just the two of us (my husband’s sleep apnea machine doesn’t work very well in the wilderness). We would make a campfire, swim, bike, fish, and my son still looks forward to this every year. You would not believe the strange looks that we get from other people at the campground. Our tent neighbors would often ask me if I am doing OK, and if I knew how to pitch a tent, make a fire, cook, fish, etc. Even at a young age, showing my son that I could handle all of these things is hopefully a life lesson that will serve him well. Half of the time, I didn’t actually know what I was doing. But we were doing it together, and that is what mattered.
Now that my son is 10, it’s more challenging to find things to do that won’t embarrass him. I find myself more motivated than ever to finally lose that extra weight and get healthy just so I can keep up with him and have more adventures. It is just like any relationship; the best thing I can do is try to “meet him where he is.” For now, our activities lately have been looking at brand name shoes for sale online, and I’ve even gotten into a certain video game that I dare not speak of. However, I’m not backing down from showering him with hugs, kisses, and cuddles every chance I get.
So, am I going overboard? Yes. Does my husband say that I am coddling and babying my son? Yes. Will I continue to do all of it? Yes!
My son and I have a very special relationship, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. No relationship is perfect, but it’s been so amazing to hear him tell other people about our adventures. Moms should not be afraid of having meaningful, healthy, and affectionate relationships with our own children and our friends’ children, regardless of if they are boys or girls.
The other night at bedtime, and yes, I lay down with him every single night, he told me, “Mommy, if you knew how much I loved you, your head would explode.” I must be doing something right, and if being overly affectionate with my son is a crime, I am guilty as charged.