“Would you like a hug?” Five words my teenage daughter has been asking me multiple times a day since all our lives changed due to the world’s recent health crisis.

At first, I thought she was going stir crazy, given that in an instant our spring break plans were canceled, the school closed and she couldn’t see her friends. I then realized she needed to drive someone else crazy and followed me around the house – particularly when I was trying to get something done – asking if I’d like a hug. The more annoyed I got, the funnier it was to her.

The other day, instead of saying no for the 20th time, I said sure, I’d love a hug. I guess I started to wonder if this was all just fodder for entertainment-sake or was there some underlying desire for a little more affection during these uncertain times. 

We’ve been asked to social distance, which for us social Sewell girls is not easy, and electronic interaction with friends and family is not quite the same as chatting in person. 

So even though we all know we are doing what’s best for our families, friends, communities and world, perhaps the new norm feels a little lonely at times, and maybe a few extra hugs reassure us that everything is going to be okay. 

The loss of lives and financial hardships has been devastating, but when I take my daily walks, I am filled with hope. Up until recently, I had never taken a walk in my neighborhood, and that was the reason we moved to Arcadia in the first place – to live in a community where we could walk, bike and stop and talk to our neighbors.

However, life happens, and work, school, sports, activities and laundry take up all your time and strolling without a real purpose seems like a luxury you can’t afford. What I’ve loved most about my walks is seeing mothers and daughters, fathers and sons and entire families living in the moment, laughing and talking without any electronic devices nearby. 

I’ve looked at homes I’ve probably driven by a million times and never noticed and admired their lawns, flowers and landscape. My husband and I love our careers, and my daughter loves her school, her friends and her activities, but in many ways, because we are running 24/7, it’s a double-edged sword. 

We are so busy with our respective lives that we are lucky if we all sit down for breakfast or dinner together three days a week. Conversations often take place during car rides between school and tennis, and at dinner, they are quick and to the point, because there’s homework due, e-mails to return and a stack of other to-dos.

You don’t realize until all that’s taken away how much you enjoy doing nothing with the people you love. We have time to talk about things that before we may not have taken the time to share, and now, there’s plenty of time to listen. It’s like in some ways getting to know someone for the first time and realizing you love them for both their strengths and imperfections. 

One thing I know for sure is that when this is all over, I hope my daughter keeps asking, “Would you like a hug?”