As I read an article written by Linda Baker for the New York Times titled "When a mother must muzzle the nuzzle", about her attempts at weaning off the physical bonding she has with her children, it struck a chord with my own childrearing experiences.
I have always been a touchy-feely type of parent to my two boys. Hugs & kisses have always come freely from me to them & vice versa. Maybe it's a rebound phenomenon of my own childhood in which, as is typical of Asian upbringing, physical expression of love was not exactly a norm.
They still give me hugs & goodnight kisses. But I miss those "cling-to-your-neck-&-nuzzle-their-face-against-my-shoulder-&-neck" type of hugs which they used to give me. Something happens between the ages of 10 & 12. They develop a reserve that prevents them from giving you that all-out expression of affection. I guess it is a first step towards growing up. Perhaps this gradual weaning off process is a natural way to prepare for the day when they eventually leave the nest to make their own way in the world. I don't think it would make it any less painful, though.