My Mom Kissed Me on the Cheek for the First Time

Since Susan and I got married last April (2016), every morning when we leave for work, my wife hugs me and kisses me and reminds me that she loves me; she does this again when we get home. In contrast, when I was growing up, my parents would say goodbye to me by saying, “Ok, Chihan, go fast and come back soon.” I didn’t think much about this until my mom kissed me on the cheek for the first time on my wedding day in front of several hundred people.

That was the first time I remember my mom kissing me on the cheek. It was uncomfortable for both of us because it’s something we’ve never practiced in my family and in our culture. My mom must have kissed my six siblings and me thousands of times when we were babies but I don’t remember her doing this at all as we grew older. I find myself wondering why it took so long.

I have many memories with my dad when I was growing up, memories of tending the buffalos in the field and in the jungle; fishing in the river; riding the bus to school at the beginning of the school year; cutting firewood in the jungle; drinking tea and having long conversations about the village and the world; evaluating the past and planning for the future; praying together and having discussions about the Bible, but I don’t remember either of us saying “I love you” or even hugging each other. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t love or care for each other; this is just our culture.

My siblings and I love and care for each other. We share our thoughts, our money, our clothes and our food. I happily received my older brother Ningtam’s old clothes and shoes as brand new and would later pass them down to my younger brothers. We were raised to love each other by forgiving, understanding, compromising, sharing, protecting one another and not fighting with one another, but we were never encouraged to confront each other with truth or to show physical affection. I have seen my siblings having a hard time on several occasions and I’ve tried my best to encourage them through words and through spending time with them, but I have never held their hands or given them a hug during their difficult times. Looking back, I wish I would have supported them in these ways, though I am grateful for the opportunity to start now.

I don’t blame my mom for not kissing me until I got married at the age of 30. In my Tangkhul Naga culture (and probably for most of the other Naga tribes as well), kissing and hugging in most cases is considered sexual activity and is never used for expressing love and affection within the family and community.

I loved when my dad shyly approached me with open arms after the wedding and hugged me. I feel more complete when my parents express their love for me through physical affection rather than through only words and acts of generosity, such as giving me the best portion of the meat at dinner or packing food from their field and garden for me whenever I leave my village.

My wife Susan, who is American, grew up in a family who expressed love through hugging and kissing and reminding each other of their love. In the picture of our moms kissing our cheeks, it is easy to see who is more comfortable with expressing and receiving physical affection.

I treasure my mom’s kiss and my dad’s hug. When I become a father, I want to show my kids that I love them in the same way. I am proud of my culture and appreciate many of its aspects, but I think instead of expressing love only through words and through giving, I would encourage Naga families to add the expressions of kissing and hugging as another meaningful way to communicate our love for each other because I feel certain that this important element is missing in our families and communities. Don’t be afraid to kiss more, hug more and spread more love.

Note: I posted a version of this on Facebook last year but I have added to it for the blog.

25 Replies to “My Mom Kissed Me on the Cheek for the First Time”

  1. Indeed mom one kiss and a hug from Dad is the most precious yeah we never practice in our life so far.we must adapt such good practice

    1. I agree, and the good news is that it’s never too late to start practicing this beautiful gesture of love within the family 🙂

  2. Hei, you have wrote up one nice piece here. Appreciate that. Ah, off the record, would you care to add a newsletter subscription in your blog site so that people can subscribe to your email list?

    1. Hey Woso, thank you for reading the post and coming up with valuable suggestions of having a subscription email list. You are indeed thoughtful and kind 🙂

  3. This is beautiful. Words are important, so are actions too. As I was growing up, I remember mom hugging me a few times but that was very rare, even rarer from my dad. There are emotions that can be felt only by touch and I’ve felt that depravity most part of my life within my family. Having learned the importance of the beautiful gesture,now I try to convey my love and support to my parents and siblings through hugs. Of course it took some learning from my part as it was new for me and there are times when you have to go through this awkward phase of uncertainty before hugging someone, but its all worth it. It’s all so very worth it. The comfort and serenity you give to your love ones by the gesture all amounts the effort.

    1. Hey Philanim, thanks for reading the post and glad that you can truly relate to it. Awesome to know that we are on the same page in realising the importance of hugging and physical expression of love within the family. I think we (Tangkhuls) should not be shy away in expressing our love through touch because as you rightly said “there are emotions that can only be felt through touch”.
      Let’s spread love 🙂

  4. Yeah, really worth reading.
    I remember, now, I should’ve
    Hug my beloved Mom, Dad & My siblings
    Before I left for further studies…
    It’s all regrets now,
    That I didn’t expose My love Physically to them.

    1. Anao Keising, you are so honest with your confession and that’s so sweet. It’s good to realise that sometimes we just overlooked or underestimated the power of touch. But hey cheer up, it’s not your fault not to give them a hug, it’s just the way how our culture and society has been through. My challenge for you is, try to give them a hug when you go back home during your holidays and they will love it.

  5. Very impressive! Like u said physical expression is more important than da words,Very true! We should encourage such practice in our culture.

  6. Very impressive! Like u said physical expression is more important than da words,Very true. We should encourage such practice in our culture.

  7. Very impressive! Like u said physical expression is more important than da words,Very true. We should encourage such practice in our culture.

  8. Bravo! Very well written in a lucid manner for all your readers. Indeed there shouldn’t be any inhibition in expressing our love and respect for our parents and children through such gestures as planting a loving kiss on the cheek or hugging them. Although this is not there in our culture it is absolutely fine in imbibing such mannerism of expressing our love,respect and concern for our near and dear ones which perhaps conveys a feeling of love in a subtle way. We wish you and your family continue to share the unconditional love perpetually as you journey the path of life.

    1. Thank you Jacinta Zimik for your kind words for us and also adding value to the post. It’s never too late to start something good in our family practices.

  9. Lovely

    It’s so rare in our community…. we can /we should b practice, it show mor affection of our love ❤️ I am trying n started to put in my life ,,,,

    1. All the best Abel! Don’t forget to share and encourage your friends once when you are already comfortable in doing so 🙂

  10. Halo brother, it was worth reading n may this kind of love n care ,showing by a gesture also practice in our culture without having any fare and negative sense.

    1. Thank you Mashungmi Zingkhai for reading the post and I am glad that you find it meaningful. We, especially Tangkhuls are friendly, hospitable and generous to our family and friends and if we add the value of kisses and hugs it’ll be really great!

  11. Have came across many qoutes and sayings from the learned and wise men, but this writing is one of the most important piece i have learnt, to take a better step in the days to come.
    Worth reading

    1. Thank you Luiram for those kind and encouraging words. I am glad you got to read it and most importantly there’s something to take away for you from the post. God bless you and your parents.

  12. We should keep the culture of hugging and kissing to our siblings …. families members whenever wherever whatever we are in

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