There are things that surprise you when you become a parent. Ok, let’s face it: almost everything surprises you, but some things more than others. One thing that I never expected was how much I would love the physical closeness I have with my daughter.
I didn’t grow up in a touchy-feely family. We didn’t hug much, and we didn’t even express our feelings with words all that much. Don’t get me wrong – we loved each other – we just didn’t express it in those ways. I never thought much about hugging and cuddling and kissing my daughter before she was born. I thought much more about all the things I wanted to teach her and how much I would enjoy watching her develop into a rational being with her own, unique personality. Those things are still the biggest values for me, but what an unexpected bonus it is to have this other, more sensual aspect to our relationship.
Sammy wasn’t a cuddly baby, so I didn’t discover this until she was around 18 months old. Once she could get around on her own a bit, she seemed to want to come back to home-base a little more often. It was as if she needed a bit more of that mommy-security once she gained the physical independence of separation. This was also about the time she stopped nursing, so that might have been a factor. When she was an infant, she wasn’t easily soothed by being held and cuddled, but at some point, she started to actually enjoy being snuggled before bed. She still sleeps best when she is in her own bed in her own room, but now I sometimes get the sweet pleasure of her falling asleep on my chest. We spend a lot of time just hugging and tickling and sitting close together while reading a book. I love it.
When we are close like this, all is right with the world. Touching her hair or her arm or kissing her cheek gives me butterflies. It's very hard to describe because it is an integration of emotion and sensation. She is my daughter and she is of me and when I touch her I know it in my bones.
I’m sure this must be a universal feeling amongst parents, but to me it is a delightful surprise. People always talk about how much they love to hold their babies or snuggle with them, but I had no idea they meant this.