Lying next to my daughter tonight, trying to get her to sleep, she reached over and put her hand around behind my head. In a sweet, innocent way she began stroking my hair – the way my grandmother used to do for me when I put my head in her lap. Even my own mother could never do that the way my grandma used to.
I took special notice because my daughter did it in the manner of a person trying to comfort someone else – as if she were comforting me, instead of the father comforting the daughter. Any parent spends countless hours comforting their children in such a way, and there is a unique joy that comes with doing it. We all (hopefully) remember these sensations from our own parents. At least from my perspective in that moment, it struck me as interesting – receiving that sensation from my daughter.
Naturally this is a wonderful thing. I want my children to be affectionate, and to be able to express their affection. Touch is so important in defining a relationship, and in our house we make sure there are no inhibitions to expressing our love for one another. “I love you’s” and hand holding are common place with us.
I don’t know if in that moment she was soothing herself, or trying to love on me. If she was soothing herself, then clearly touching is part of her “norm”. If it was an expression of love from her to me then she must be secure enough in our love for her to feel comfortable sharing that love by giving some of it back.
Either way, lying there feeling my daughter’s fingers in my hair I could close my eyes and imagine it was actually my grandma – a woman who loved colossally, perfectly. In that moment, at least in this regard, I knew my wife and I have thus far raised her right.