My daughter hugged me today. She gave me a tight squeeze. She hung on. She smiled up at me and then hung on again, burying her face in my belly. She purred against me. She wasn’t sad or anxious or worried. We didn’t have a fight or sharp words. We weren’t making up for something or trying to make something happen. She wasn’t begging me for anything. I wasn’t sleepy or angry or sad or in some way begging for a hug, in any of those silent ways we parents have to make our wishes known. She simply hugged me. Long and loud. Without saying a word.
The thing is, she’s eight.
She’s becoming independent. She makes her own toast. She shows me how to do things on my new phone. She asks me for clarification when I say something that doesn’t make sense. Not “doesn’t make sense” because it’s super scientific or political or beyond her level of comprehension, but because she disagrees. “What do you mean?” She asks me to defend my position. She’s growing. Growing up. While all around me, friends’ daughters are graduating middle school, high school… My daughter is going into third grade.
She alternates between Pokemon and Ke$ha.
She hardly ever offers a spontaneous hug.
She’s been home a week.
I know she’s happy to be back with her pets and her moms. I can feel her relief. I also know she had a really, really, really good time away. “Look what Grandma gave me!” has pretty much been her theme. What Grandma gave me, what Grandma fed me, what Grandpa taught me. Where they went, what they did.
There was also the baking of cookies together in our kitchen, when she asked if my Dad taught me how to cook.
And there was the book she made at Grandma’s, “How to be the perfect mom.” There was that.
But until now, there were no hugs. No spontaneous hugs. None of those run-across-the-room-and-bowl-me-over hugs. No bury-your-face-in-my-belly hugs. No sit-on-my-lap-and-nuzzle-me hugs. Until now.
The hug she gave me today was long and lovely and loud. We held weeks inside it. We held years. We held all we’d been saving up in the time she was away. It was real. And spontaneous. And super cool.
I never knew hugs could be so loud. Never.