My mother wasn’t a touchy-feely kinda mom at all. I mean, she gave a kiss or two here and there if you were saying goodnight or heading off to a sleepover or something, but all that hugging and smooching and laying in the lap and stuff? Yeah, not so much. She loved me, no doubt. But she wasn’t loving.

And really, that was okay, because I had my Dad for the handholding and the skipping and the giggling and stuff. The man just loves kids, but he absolutely adored me reminded me every time he folded me into his strapping embrace his heartbeat keeping time with mine or held my hand while we strolled through the mall, licking on strawberry and butter pecan ice cream cones, my tiny feet keeping double time to match his stride.

He lived to make me laugh. And feel loved.

And I did.

And I do.

And I promised myself that when I became a mother, I’d extend the warm and fuzzy to my babies because kissing on them and hugging on them and loving them up was, thanks to my daddy, as natural and beautiful as summer rain.

So with that pretty vision of rainbows and stars and hearts and whatnot dancing in your head, try to help me understand how in the hell I ended up here:

Scene 1
(The parking lot of our local Kroger)

Me: (reaching out for the hand of my 10-year-old, Mari)

Mari: (looking down at said hand, as if it’s a steaming pile of poo)

Me: What, you don’t want to hold my hand?

Mari: Um I don’t care if I hold your hand or not. (She stiffly holds out her digits for her mom’s pleasure.) But if I see someone I know, I’m gonna have to let it go.

Me: (A silent, “Well damn.”)

Scene 2
(The pasta aisle in our local Kroger)

Me: Aw shucks, that’s my jam! (Insert image of me snapping my fingers and bopping to Stevie Wonder’s “As.”)

Mari: (Whipping her head around like she’s a spy straight out of a scene of Mission Impossible…) Mommy! Stop!

Me: What? What’s wrong?

Mari: You’re dancing (she tugs at my arm).

Me: (Looking down at my arm like she just sliced it with a knife) What? Dang, I can’t dance now, either? It’s. Stevie. It’s, like, on the law books that you have to dance when Stevie’s on.

Mari: Mommy, please stop. Please? (Her eyes darting, trying hard to hold on to that giggle. A trickle of it escapes.)

Me: (Insert image of me pushing the cart aside and cabbage patching and wopping it out, center aisle.)

Yeah, I did it. Yeah, she was embarrassed as all get out. And yeah, I think when she gets older and has her own children and gets to reflecting on the kind of mother she wants to be — the cold one who rations out hugs and kisses or the warm one who busts moves in the pasta aisle — she might remember those moments when I took her hand in mine and I broke a sweat trying to make her laugh. When her mother tried to paint the picture of her childhood with rainbows and stars and hearts.

And she just might hold her own daughter’s hand a little tighter in the parking lot, even in front of judgmental fifth graders, or dance for her — no matter who’s watching.

Because this is how it should be.

Note: This piece originally was written for my column at’s The Parenting Post. To see the rest of my columns there and to enjoy great mom-to-mom advice on raising children, CLICK HERE.

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  1. always4evamoi

    coming from both sides, a mom and a daughter, i don't recall my mom ever embarrassing my sister and i (well except when she called our names real loud in malls trying to find us lol). i was that child who wished my mom hugged us and gave that extra level of affection (which she didn't) but just knew that she loved us and im now also that mom who has showered my little one with more hugs and kisses than it is humanly possible, and im still doing it, until that time comes when im not allowed anymore… this blog 😀

  2. Chocolate Covered Daydreams

    I love this because I too am a mom that can often embarrass my daughters, even now that they are grown up. Mari needs to realize that when it's Stevie, you just gotta jam!

  3. ~EssenseVibez~

    i still embarrass my gurls {now women}–i talk crazee and sing crazee–but deep down inside, i know they love their momma–and they know i'm gonna be who i am around their friends–shoo, thier friends think i'm aiight and they say they respect me–nine times outta ten they say they wish their mom was free and open like me–and my kids love that–so do i!—great post !!!!

  4. Kim Moldofsky

    My oldest is 11 and I totally get this! Even my younger boy, who is more of a snuggle bunny, is increasingly conscious of acting cool in public.

    Love the story and the images you created.

  5. My mom was the loving one, my father wasn't. I'll be thirty on Friday but everytime I drive down to visit mom…she still proceeds to bite my cheeks to wake me up in the morning.

    When I was younger it used to drive me crazy, but secretly I always loved it simultaneously. Keep dancing!

  6. SingleMomKnits

    I love it. My 14 year old daughter always has to tell me to stop singing or dancing. But she accepts that this is just the way her crazy mother is. Sometimes she will even sing with me.

    I do still get the hugs and kisses which is nice. I used to have to ask for a hug and I didn't want to be that way with my daughter.

  7. T.Allen-Mercado

    Too funny! My husband is actually the supermarket aisle dancer, rapper, in/famous impersonator. Come to think of it, it's not limited to the supermarket, either. I'm more of a cuddle up and have a spontaneous picnic in the middle of the family room mom. You're so right about the special moments, whereve they may be.

  8. Denene, I can't wait to start embarrassing my children! Right now, I'm still quite the cat's meow, but I know it won't always be that way – wait I am pretty damn cool, so maybe there's hope – but I digress.

    Whopping, cabbage patch, break dancing, moon walking, the robot, I'm bringing them all back when my kids are pre-teen, tweens and teens. They're gonna know (as will ALL of their friends), how Mr. Chukumba gets down!

  9. Teresha@Marlie and Me

    I'm so going to be the kissing, hugging, dancing, laughing and making a plum fool of herself mom too! deep down, Mari loves that you are a touchy feely mommy.

  10. Teresha@Marlie and Me

    speaking of Oscars…big ups to Mo'Nique and Kathryn Bigelow!

  11. My oldest is at the stage where he doesn't want to be seen in the car with us. He's too cool for that! Maybe it's because we all yell out the window "Bye Tyler! We love you!"

    Hugs and Mocha,

  12. Great post! My mom embaressed me ALL the time with her hugs, kisses, hand holding and dancing and I am so close to her now for it. She is my best friend. I plan on embaressing my son for the rest of his life – he is two now, so he still thinks I am the greatest thing since cupcakes. Keep dancing in the isles, sister!

  13. Love this post!

    My mother embarrassed me with affection and singing in public, or the dreaded "Do you know that boy" screaming across the grocery store about the object of my latest crush. But I always knew she loved me regardless of how mortified I reacted.

    Now it's my turn and I plan to smother my daughter with kisses and public cabbage patching too! It's our right as mothers to do so!

  14. This reminds me of my mother. She'll hear a song in the grocery store or where ever else and spontaneously break out in song. It's endearing and a tad mortifying at the same time….

  15. LOLOLOL! Why you had to play Mari out like that, yo?! I LOVE IT! Mine are still too young to get embarrassed (as far as I can tell, anyway!), but I'm sure the time is fast-approaching when my tendency to do "inappropriate" Jamaican dancehall style moves to ANY song that makes me move will cause the pile-of-poo glares and no-she-didn't huffing breaths in my direction. My mom STILL does that to me, so it's only fair my girls get it too!

    And yes, it IS written in the law books that one must dance to Stevie — I saw it myself!

  16. That story brought a smile to my face. I loved holding hands with mommy. Well, most of the time. Unless, like your daughter we ran into some class mates of mine. At 33, I constantly hug my kids, and now know, how good it feels whether you're the parent or the child.

  17. Funkidivagirl

    I sing out loud in the grocery store all the time and while my daughter is not old enough to be embarrassed yet, she did come home and tell her brother about me. Wait…maybe she is embarrassed! *shrugs* I don't care.

  18. My daughter is 8 and already embarrassed by me.

  19. Love this! My daughter is 10 too and she is just starting to resist the holding hands and such. Most of the time she still will hold my hand, but she is getting to that age too! It wouldn't be right if parents didn't embarass their kids sometimes. 🙂

  20. Ooh I never did the dancing out with my son. If I dance in the house he tells me to stop. Who wrote the rule? that moms can't dance. I have to try the supermarket-keep having fun! Deep down they love it! Mommys Rock!

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