The morning light creeps through the windows as I hold my two-year-old's head. He's giggling. He knows my fingers will begin to make their way down to his toes. We're doing baby yoga. Some days, it's a simple touch on the chest before he dashes down the hall. Today, he sits in my lap as we hum Om and chuckle at the vibrations between us.
I didn't realize how important touch was until he arrived. Numerous studies show babies and mammals well fed, but lacking touch, thrive less than those in need of food, but held in the arms of a mother or loved one. Touch is one of our most crucial and basic rights. It is not only essential for children - It is something each of us needs. In our busy world, I fear at times we are moving farther away from personal affection. Hugs are traded for likes online, eye contact shifts from faces to phones. Adults are often told to be tough, when vulnerability is a form of courage. The more we convince ourselves that gentleness is for the weak, the more we lose connection and become sick in heart, body and mind.
I think of this as I witness my son's spirited nature. He's sensitive, and I support it. He thrives on touch, and I value it. He is a growing baby boy, and can still be held. We sleep with heads nuzzled against one another. We hold hands and walk through parks, along shores and while browsing stores. We kiss boo-boos and hold the hurt until tears end.
While I hope these moments of touch show my love, I tell my worries to settle. Just the other morning, while eating breakfast, my toddler set down his fork, cupped my chin with his tiny hands, and looked into my eyes. He then continued eating moments later. He didn't need to say, "I love you." I knew it right then.
With a Perspective, I'm Jessica Malone Latham.