You Miss The Snuggles When You Have An Independent Kid

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girl-running-with-balloonsOne of the most exhausting parts of being a mom is feeling like your body doesn’t belong to you. It starts when you’re pregnant and the whole world feels entitled to comment on and touch your burgeoning belly, then it keeps going through the months of feedings, night wakings, and basically every other moment of the day that you have an infant permanently attached to your person.

I know this exhaustion because my seven-month-old is the cuddliest baby that ever existed and wants to be in my arms at all times, but his older sister was nothing like that. From the moment my daughter was born, she’s had a fierce independent streak. She never wanted to be swaddled and could hardly sit still to be rocked. She refused to sleep anywhere but in her own sleeper or crib. As soon as she was able, she wanted to hold her own bottle, feed herself, and play on her own.

I admire my daughter’s fearless nature because she has a kind of confidence I’ve never had. In social situations, she is a natural leader and has no problem approaching strangers and making friends. She is unafraid of trying new things and never feels slighted if she has to play on her own. She has no doubts that the whole world is there for the taking.

I love my strong, fierce little girl, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes wish she needed me more. It’s not that I want her to be anything less than what she is. I just wish I could hug her for longer than a second or rub her head without her brushing my hand away. I have to work harder to understand her love language than I do with my son.

My daughter expresses love through engagement. She invites you into her world to be a firefighter princess or build helicopters with her Lego blocks. She shows you her new dance move or kicks the soccer ball your way. She asks you to sit and tell her stories while you paint her nails. She expresses love through the gifts of time and attention, rather than hugs and kisses.

For a long time I worried that I didn’t snuggle her enough when she was a baby or that her aversion to affection was a symptom of some sort of emotional disconnect she felt with me, but now I understand it’s just a part of who she is. She will give goodnight kisses and she cuddles with you when she feels sick, but for the most part she’s got too much going on in her world to stop for long.

I’ve learned to meet her where she is and appreciate the hugs when they come. I’ve also learned to fiercely protect her right to not show physical affection from relatives and friends who feel like hugs are a requirement. Every child is unique and I adore my strong-willed, independent toddler, even if it means I have to give her a high-five as she flies by me on her scooter instead of a cuddle on the couch.

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