Claire's question was humorous for one simple reason: I am not, in any way, a hugger.
I am not a cuddly woman.
I never feel compelled to hold a friend's new baby.
I don't indulge my children in unnecessary crying or whining. In our house it is understood that unless you are bleeding profusely, or your heart is sincerely breaking, Momma will not attend to unwarranted upset.
I love my children fiercely and will do almost anything for them. But I don't coddle them. Pretty much the only things I coddle are puppies and eggs.
But I'm not cold. Ironically, most people find me to be casual to a fault and quite warm with my words and deeds.
At least I am honest about my hugging defect. A few weeks ago, the girls and I were driving home from the mall. We were stopped in traffic. On the sidewalk, up ahead there was a mother with her arm strongly encircling her teenage daughter's shoulders. I pointed at the pair and said, 'Look girls, that's what it looks like when I mother hugs her off-spring'.
My girls solemnly gazed out the window at the warm scene of motherly love, and sighed.
Maybe it is because I am so forthcoming with my anti-hugging convictions that my children love me anyway. On rare occasions, they approach and ask me for a hug. This always catches me by surprise and I feel a wave of guilt as I whole-heartedly squeeze and hug my daughter.
I just need to be reminded, I guess... not too often, though. I couldn't handle that.
My close friends know not to hug me. I am very clear about my personal space requirements. Ironically, it's only people who don't really know me who hug me. But that only happens once, I clear up the miscommunication after that first awkward embrace.
Erin walked through customs and saw us, my four girls and I, waiting behind the security barriers. As she came closer I surprised myself as I stepped forward and threw my arms around her. I don't know what came over me, but I felt the sincere overwhelming urge to hug my dear friend. I stepped back and chuckled not only at myself but at the expression on my daughter's faces: complete shock.
We turned to walk out to the car and I put my arm around Claire's shoulders. She smiled and we walked through the doors of the airport into the chilly winter air.