This morning, as I was speaking to another mum, my wee girl went in through the school door without me noticing, or saying goodbye. For the rest of the time since then, I have found myself feeling a bit out of kilter. It took a few minutes to diagnose, but then I got it: we didn’t hug goodbye. It seems that even though it’s been nearly seven years, and for my son, nine, I still need to take my leave of them properly, every day. I still need to hug them at least twice, every day. I still need to make sure they know I love them, every day. I have that feeling with my husband too, and I have been told that husbands who kiss their wives before they leave for work are less likely to have an accident getting there and back. Hmm, not sure that is anything more than a far-flung theory, but I’ll run with it.
Yesterday, when my daughter was anxiously waiting for the first day back at school since the summer holidays, one of her friends spotted her, ran over and gave her a long hug. They’re the best kind because you are saying, you matter to me, have you noticed that yet, don’t forget it. There isn’t a day that goes by without me recognising the need within myself for one of those hugs. Not from a random stranger (let’s not push it), but from someone I care about. So, if that’s how I feel, I’m pretty sure everyone else feels that too, well, apart from the really prickly people, I don’t know what they want. My aunt had an obsession years ago with the ‘inner child’ that is in all of us – the part that has been carrying around hurts for a long time, the part that creates that need to be hugged. Perhaps that is the way we have to look at people – even the ‘prickly’ ones. Perhaps it all starts with empathy, and maybe it ends with a hug. But watch out for the spikes.