I am a ‘Boy Mom’. And it’s not just because I have two boys.
Honestly, even if we end up having a girl someday, I’m still going to feel like a ‘Boy Mom’. I’ve just never been very much of a ‘girlie girl’. But I also believe that there are some parts of parenting that are completely gender neutral, and snuggling is one of them.
Boy or girl, I think all children need snuggles from their parents. Some kids more than others. My oldest son James honestly has never been a fan of snuggling. As a baby he didn’t enjoy being held, hated all the carriers and wraps I tried to put him in. I’d rub his back or caress his round little cheeks, but he wouldn’t respond, or sometimes would even pull away. Once he was mobile I barely got a hug out of him. It isn’t until now, at 6 ½ years old, that he’s starting to desire more hugs and physical affection. It honestly catches me off guard sometimes with him. I’ve even wondered if he’s just trying to butter me up for something.
My younger son Luke, on the other hand, has been a ‘love bug’ since the moment he was born. Despite being a rough and tough toddler, crashing his way through everything, he needed about a hundred hugs and snuggles a day. He still does, at 5 years old. He will come and curl up with me, run his little fingers over my face, and just love to be close. It’s actually when he’s distant that I know he’s upset about something.
Lately I’ve been learning more about this need for snuggles. In the book, The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Gary Chapman, one of the ‘love languages’ is physical affection. The author explains that for children, this can be anything from hugs, to pats on the back, to even wrestling and playing rough. But it’s all a form of physical affection, which is an expression of love for some children. Since reading about this, I’ve been paying more attention to when my children are being extra snuggly, or as I call it, clingy. To be honest, it’s usually when I haven’t been able to show them as much affection. We’re currently expecting our third child very soon and I’ve been in either nesting mode or resting mode. So, on top of being very busy or trying to nap, I also haven’t been able to snuggle with them much. There is no room on my lap with this big belly, I can’t pick them up, and I certainly can’t wrestle on the floor. Instead, I’ve been making a point to try and show them other means of physical affection, such as holding hands, giving kisses, hugs, and just being as close as possible. My husband has also become quite the jungle gym for them, as I think the wrestling and climbing on him helps fill their little love tanks.
So the next time my boys are seeming to be extra clingy, I’m going to make sure I give them some extra snuggles. Because more than likely, as they get older, those snuggles will become less and less, so I better take them while I can get them!
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 6.5-year-old James and 5-year-old Luke.