Gemma-Rose says, “I need a hug. You haven’t hugged me all day.”
And I reply, “I need a hug too. Where have you been?”
Gemma-Rose climbs onto my lap and I say, “You’re growing too fast. Soon you won’t fit on my lap. Before I know it you’ll be all grown up.”
What will I do when Gemma-Rose is an adult? That time is still far off for my youngest daughter, but it has arrived for her sister.
Tomorrow Imogen will be 18, and she will be all grown up. Soon she will be off out into the world, living her own life. She won’t be around to climb onto my lap whenever I feel like hugging her.
I ask Gemma-Rose, “Will you phone me when you leave home? Will you write? Will you visit me? Will you still give me hugs?”
And she says, “Of course I will.”
But what if she forgets to write or phone or come home for hugs? Will I feel resentful and hurt? Do I have certain expectations of my adult children that I’d like fulfilled?
I will admit, the answers to these questions used to be ‘yes’. Learning to answer ‘no’ was a long painful experience. Now I try and let my children go, no strings attached.
I love you Mum
I am so glad to see you
I need a hug.
These mean so much more when they are said freely out of love, and not because they are expected.
“Imogen, I’m writing about hugs,” I say. “Are you too old to hug me? Are you too old to sit on my lap?”
“No!” she says.
So Imogen turns 18 tomorrow. She will be all grown up, but I hope she doesn’t want to leave me for a long time yet.
Imogen says, “Mum, don’t tell me there’s an age when you get too old for hugs and too old to sit on your mother’s lap.” Then she adds, “Could I have a hug now, please?”
My daughter climbs on my lap. “I’ll be careful not to squash you,” she smiles. No chance of that. She’s only a small person. She snuggles in close and we hold each other tight.
And while we embrace I think…
It is only in letting our children go, that they can return and love us freely. So when the time comes, I shall let Imogen go, no strings attached.