Last year was chock-full of transitions for me and my family: a new house in a new neighborhood; new schools and schedules for both of my daughters; even a new commuting routine for my husband. For us, the road to the New Year started in August with our move.
Despite the abundant change around us, we’ve maintained important family routines like dinner together every Friday night and a snuggle & book before bedtime.
Sometimes I kiss my daughters' palms before bed, and close their fingers around the kiss. Maybe it's on a night when they're not feeling well, or when it's been an especially fun good-night routine, and they're not quite ready to let me go. I kiss their palms saying, "I love you" — even though the kiss really says it all.
It's a sweet ritual inspired by Audrey Penn's "The Kissing Hand," a book about little Chester raccoon, who is starting a new school and doesn't want to leave his mama. Mrs. Raccoon teaches Chester that, no matter where he is, his mama's love is with him. With a simple kiss, she gives Chester a symbol of her love to take with him everywhere.
“But, don't worry," Mrs. Raccoon explains to her son, "When you open your hand and wash your food, I promise the kiss will stick."
Our love for our children always sticks, even when we've had long, frustrating days with them and through every conceivable transition — new schools, camps, activities, doctors, separations, and bad days.
“Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” Mrs. Raccoon says. “Even if they seem strange and scary at first.”
To us grown ups, we know our love for our children is a constant. Still, Chester's mom teaches us that a little reminder couldn't hurt.
“Whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, 'Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you.' And that very kiss will jump to your face and fill you with toasty warm thoughts.”
Though Chester can't see his mom's kiss on his hand, he knows the love is there.
Psychologists believe transitional objects like blankets and teddy bears are rooted in this same concept. To parents, these loveys may just seem like little reminders of home, of our love. But to our children, they can be much more. It's the smell or feel that reminds them that love from the adults in their lives is steady, unshakeable, wherever a child may be. Harnessing that powerful connection and using it to benefit our children is what drives us every day at Pouchie Pals.
May this New Year be filled with new opportunities, amazing adventures and daily reminders of unconditional love, wherever 2016 takes us.