Monday, February 20, 2012

touch

My dear Rebe has always had very sensitive skin. She feels pain very acutely and her skin is one of the first places that will show if she is feeling stressed or run down. When she was teething as a little one she used to always get terrible patches of eczema here and there until the tooth had broken through.
This time of year, the back end of winter, when immune systems are being tested to the limit, vitamin D supplies are low in the body, her skin becomes very dry and she gets itchy patches behind her knees and on her back. We have to be very careful with soaps and detergents, but the thing that works best is bear rubs! Long, deep relaxing bear rubs after a nice bath just before bed: good for the skin, good for the soul.

For a few years now we have been making our own cream. I have gradually built up my confidence doing so and will share with you how we make our bear rub cream.

You need:
a really good oil...we're using cold pressed organic sesame oil. This oil has lots of great properties: it is healing and the oil of choice in Ayurveda, and I love the nutty, earthy smell. You could equally use olive oil or almond oil.
dried lavender
dried calendula flowers
lavender essential oil (because we like quite a strong lavender-y smell)
beeswax

Put all your dried flowers in a small pot (we used about a handful of lavender and 2 of calendula)
Pour in enough oil to cover the flowers.
Heat until the oil is quite hot (but you couldn't fry chips in it) then take the pot off the heat and allow to steep for about half an hour.

Grate the beeswax
When the oil is cool enough to touch, strain the flowers out by pouring the oil through a muslin.


Squeeze out the extra oil (it looks and smells good enough to eat!)
Put the oil back into the pot and put back on a low heat.

Add 5-7 drops of lavender essential oil and the grated bees wax. Stir over the heat until all the wax has melted.

To test the consistency of the cream drop a tiny bit into some cold metal. If it sets very hard and white you can add a little more oil, if it doesn't set add more beeswax.

Pour the cream into wee jars and allow to set. This may take over night.

It is lovely stuff and all the kids got bear rubs last night.

It got me thinking a lot about touch. Rebe, of all of my children, needs touch. She craves it and asks for it. As a baby she cried and cried if she were ever put down. I think that often she needed nothing more than touch: to be held and stroked and patted.
I didn't really understand much about attachment parenting when she was tiny, and I was very confused and exhausted trying to find ways to put her down. I wish I had just held her more, I wish I'd had a wrap sling, I wish we had done more massage...but we didn't and I try not to feel too guilty about it. Instead I am glad that I know now and that I can see the importance of touch for her.

I do think that we underestimate the power of touch, the importance of touch. Our skin is the biggest sense organ of our body, we take in a huge amount of information through it. It really should be looked after and loved.

In our society and culture touch is pretty frowned upon. If you consider the amount of equipment there is on the market that creates a separation between parent and child there is a definite message there that too much touching is unhealthy or undesirable. In other cultures men hold hands walking along the street, people kiss as a greeting, mothers carry their babies for a long time and all the time. But here we hardly ever touch, in fact our sense of personal space is quite big and we defend it fiercely.

I do think this is pretty unhealthy! I wonder how much underage sex in our society is actually due to craving for touch? I wonder how much of poor body image is due to lack of touch? From being very young we are taught not to touch things that are disgusting or horrible. I wonder do young men and women equate not being touched by anyone with being horrible or disgusting?

We need touch and I am so grateful to Rebe for teaching me about the importance of touch, of contact. Touching someone is so silent and yet it can say so loudly I love you.

hugs x

12 comments:

  1. Oh yes yes yes, I agree wholeheartedly. My eldest taught me about touch too, and our recipe for balm is very similar to yours (we usually use olive oil as the base, or apricot kernal oil). :)

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    1. oh apricot kernal oil sounds lovely :-)

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  2. Thank you for the recipe for your oil rub.
    Can you tell me what a bear rub is?
    Not heard of it before and wondering if it would help a stressy child. First reader so off to read some of your earlier posts. best wishes.

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    1. Hello and welcome Lydia. A bear rub is nothing more than an unprofessional but filled with love massage. We call it that because Rebe used to growl with pleasure like a bear :-) It would def help a stressy child. A few important points for me is to not be in a hurry, to really focus on the child and think of your love for them. I think that really helps me to tune in to the child and also spell out to them through touch how much I love them. hope this helps, with love Laura x

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  3. Dear Laura, this is a totally wonderful post- I love and appreciate all that you say about the human need for touch! I have a friend who went to Ethiopia and was amazed at the amount of touching that went on- holding hands, arms around one another, showing friendship and appreciation. In the US people just do not do that, especially men.
    My girl and I are like Rebe with our skin. This winter I have been out of balance somehow- and my skin has suffered badly because of it- allergic patches sprouting out over and over. Stress, illness, imabalance always shows up on my skin. Often my scalp hurts if I am under the weather.
    I have been needing to do another batch of salve too.
    So much love to you, and hugs dear friend!

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    1. Hi Mel, yes you poor thing it does sound like you've suffered with your skin this winter. I hope it gets better soon and I'm sure the coming sun will heal it. Actually your recipe was the first one I tried :-) and we were scraping the bottom out of the jar you sent us...can you see we used your jar?

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  4. Great post! I also am a very sensitive person like Rebe, and show it in my skin. I also was a baby that didn't want to be put down and starved for the human touch all throughout childhood. I am now about to become a new mother and talk about how I will bond/attach to my daughter with a baby sling, co-sleeping etc. and my family and friends don't understand it and they keep hinting that the baby will need to be independent. They also don't understand that independent children need to go through a period of healthy dependence first, that all later anxieties come from core needs that weren't/aren't being met. I wish it was the case that schools had to teach childhood development and about human core needs.

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    1. Hi Carrie, I'm so glad that you understand your need for touch and your babies need for touch, it will certainly make life easier for you when your little one arrives. Do remember though that you also need healing touch for yourself. I think as mama's we give so much of ourselves and even though we are touched by our chidlren all the time, we still need a healing and loving touch oursleves. Try and make sure you get massages from friends and family, that you can hold someones hand, if nothing else go to the hairdresser and get someone else to wash or brush your hair. much love x x

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe for massage cream. My younger daughter has very sensitive skin and my older daughter is expecting her first baby in the summer so we will be giving your cream a try.

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    1. Hi Debbie, what lovely news :-) I hope you enjoy the cream, I'd love to hear how you get on with it :-) x

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  6. Beautiful post, laura. I use a oil blend on James - he has a mild hemi, so it helps with his stiff shoulder. He might enjoy this cream too. xxx

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