Learning to Hug

Growing up, I don’t remember a lot of hugs. Perhaps it was me being introverted, anti-social, with a big ‘don’t touch me’ on my forehead — or perhaps it was the family customs I was raised within. I started to learn about the power of a hug in first year university. Every one hugged. At the time, I thought that the hugs between girlfriends were a part of some ‘girl power’ cult — and the ones from guys were just because up, close and personal was their #1 motive.



The hugs continued throughout my early 20’s, but a pivotal learning moment took place when I became a nanny. I had always babysat children throughout high school, but back then I was a dumb dumb, who would just watch TV and play with them when I had to. When I was nanny, I was also a real deal full-fledged adult. Yes that means I was now responsible for getting them dressed, bathed, fed; making sure they were active; did their homework; and had lots of opportunities to be creative and play. Over the course of 7 years, I worked with a ton of families — but my primary ones were Paige & Sydney; Talia, Addison & Reagan; and Joel.

When I first met Paige & Sydney, they were young. Paige would have been a toddler and Sydney a year or so older than her. Over the years, I spent a lot of time with the girls and learned the ins and outs of how they worked. I sang happy birthday to them at their parties. I picked them up into my arms when they tumbled on the playground. I would belly laugh with them after a war with the tickle monster. I got after them when they ran the water in the bath tub to the very brim.

Every so often there would be tears. I’d give them a tight squeeze, brush the tears off their cheeks and say, it’s all going to be ok. Inevitably I would make them laugh and soon enough we’d be back to play time.  During periods of frustration {holla, kids can’t always get what they want!} or a downturn in their day, I’d  tell them to find their blankie and give them a cuddle. We would often sit in silence, just enjoying each other. I remember Paige always used to draw on my skin with her index finger. Circles and swirls, around and around. She was learning about touch and connectedness long before I figured it out myself.

I was hugging instinctively. I knew I hadn’t been programmed that way as a child, but in fight or flight, I hugged. My kids taught me the power of a real deal, fix your day, hug. I would walk into their home after a day of classes and I yearned for that moment I could have their smiley faces and warm little bodies in my arms. They’d come running for the door, throw their hands up and I’d bounce them in the air before giving them a squeeze and letting them run back to whatever they were doing. In that moment, I felt joy. We all felt joy.

Over the years I’ve learned that touch is a part of who we all are. For my kids, hugging allowed them to learn what trust and a safe environment felt like. They learned that it’s ok to be vulnerable. They learned that in the worst of moments, someone would be there to support them. For me, hugging taught me the true depth of human touch. It allowed me to learn about human connection, the energy that exists between two, and most importantly — to give and receive.

Touch is likely more important to me now than it’s ever been in my life. I learned about the power of a hug — and now I crave it. In my moments of totally on edge and losing my mind, I always say to myself… I just need a hug. Where can I find one? I wonder who I can find to hug me. A hug will solve everything. I need a hug. Someone. Help. Me. Ugh. Seriously. I haven’t {thankfully} got to the point of just hanging out in my lobby waiting to pounce on the next person {victim} to walk out of the elevator. ;)

What I know for sure is that hugs are healing. They allow you to pass strength between two people — and they are damn good for the mind, body and soul.

If I can offer you {and me} any piece of advice, it’s be present, affectionate — and hug more. You’ll be happier. They’ll be happier. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll like it.

“No other form of communication is as universally understood as touch. The compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug can take away our fears, soothe our anxieties, and fill the emptiness of being lonely.” – Randi Fine

PS – We all know that awkward hugs are the worst. Those pansy, one shoulder uncomfortable, please don’t touch me hugs. Not everyone hugs, I get that. Hell, I’ve been there. :) I look at hugs as go home or go hard. Give a hug your all or don’t give it at all.


  1. Janelle November 18, 2013

    Sadly hugs and other forms of touch are being removed from children’s every day lives all the time and it’s terrible. I’ve never enjoyed those feather hugs where someone barely touches you. I’m a deep bear hug kind of hugger. The kind of hug that leaves you feeling warm all over, and left knowing that I care about you. It’s really the only kind I know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.