Posted by Sujata Dewaji who is a facilitator at Parenting Matters and mother of a 17 year old girl and a 14 year old boy.
My teenage daughter and I are watching an ad on baby products on TV and both of us say, “Aw, so cute!” in perfect unison. “Did I enjoy the oil massage and bath as this baby?” she asks curiously. “You loved your bath and you gurgled and squirmed with the slight ticklish feeling when you were massaged”, I reply dreamily. We share a smile.
Suddenly I was down memory lane. I reminisced how I loved the sensation of this small, warm body next to mine. I was amazed every time her tiny fingers curled into mine. I loved the feel of the cool tiny feet as I rested them on my cheeks. I delighted in the big burp my little child gave after her feed. As these thoughts race through my mind, I feel a sense of contentment. I realise that even the thoughts of touch between my child and me calms me down.
Touch expresses love
Physical touch is important for the child’s health and development. A parent’s gentle touch is an emotional engagement that conveys affection and love. Physical interaction reduces stress and develops a sense of well-being. Being mindful or in the moment or paying attention while interacting with your child is a powerful form of bonding and connection.
The young, new mother is overwhelmed by this bundle of joy in her arms. She has absolutely no time to stand and stare; she has a zillion things on her mind and a million things to do!! How is it possible to be in the moment?! It is difficult and sometimes very hard to juggle. Maybe trying to be mindful a little bit everyday could help build the awareness.
While I massaged and bathed my little one I was mindful of my hands caressing her. While I towelled and dressed her up I was cooing and talking to her. While feeding her I soaked in the pleasure of the contact that bound her to me. I sang hand-me-down lullabies while I put her to sleep and that lulled me in deep slumber too.
I heard from a friend that even while diaper-cleaning your child, have a pleasant face and converse with your child than turning your nose in disgust or giving a here-you-go-again look because this is the most natural thing for a being and one of the indications that your child is healthy. And for that one is filled with gratitude.
Even with my teenager.
I come back to the present with a thud when I hear my 17-year old says, “Ma, ...”. Later, I ponder on how I loved to cuddle my most-of-the-times fresh-smelling baby! I do not get so many chances nowadays. Yes, a peck-on –the- cheek hopefully if she is not in a tearing hurry or a hug before sleep. I am mindful while I oil and comb her long, thick hair and she turns back and says it is so relaxing. Strangely, it is the same for me. I am fully aware of her and of my arms around her when she is silently sobbing into my shoulders and telling me how she is hurt by a friend. Even as I massage the balm on her back when she is suffering from a bad bout of cough, I try to be aware of the touch that could soothe my sick child. I gently stroke her head until she goes to sleep.
Both the girl and boy child require the loving embrace of their parents.
Though my narration involves my daughter and me, my 14-year old son is not far from my mind. He is a demonstrative child and has a hug ready for me every evening or if he does forget he says, ”Mom, I have not hugged you for a long time!”. He loves when I ruffle his hair or pat his cheek. He is a guy who is boisterous when he plays football and happy in the company of his gang of boys. He shows his caring self when he puts his arm around his friend’s shoulder who is bullied.
I realise that as parents we have a huge responsibility to model behaviour in a manner our children learn and emulate from it and in this case, become emotionally stable and compassionate human beings.
A touch passes on for a lifetime from one loved one to another...