I Gave Up on Kisses

My dear little big boy,

You said something this past week that gave my a heart a little jolt and brought a little mist to my eyes. You said something that caused me to pause, to think, and to reflect. You said something that my ears weren’t expecting to hear so soon, and you said something that my heart wasn’t prepared to accept. What you said wasn’t angry or mean, harsh or demeaning, unloving or unfair; you just said something that was hard to hear.

So what exactly did you say?

Well, like I have done more times than I can remember or count, I had pulled you onto my lap, wrapped my arms around you, and readied myself to give you a big ‘ol kiss, but things didn’t exactly end like they have the last 100+ times.

No, this time, you stopped me before my kiss had a chance to reach its usual resting spot.

Pushing me back from your face, you stated in very simple and straight-forward terms, “Mommy, I kinda gave up on kisses, but I still love you.” 

(insert awkward pause)

(insert heart punch)

(insert something else that describes a really icky feeling that comes when little boys say hard things to their mommies)

I didn’t really know what to say, but I said the first thing that came to my mind.

“It’s okay, buddy. I know I will always have a special place in your heart.” 

I really have no clue where those empathetic words came from and how they even managed to bypass my heart and my mind before bubbling from my mouth, but they did…and I’m really glad they did.

Because “emotional mama” wanted to cry and say, “Wait! You’re my little boy, and I’m your mama!”

And “logical mama” wanted to reason and say, “You’re too little to tell me you don’t want kisses!”

And “controlling mama” wanted to insist and say, “I’m your mama, and I can give you kisses whenever I want!”

And “dramatic mama” wanted to guilt-trip you and scream, “How could you ever do this to me!?!?”

And “super nostalgic mama” wanted to lament and say, “But I didn’t have ample time to grieve this transition!”

And “counselor mama” wanted to clarify and ask, “So why exactly have you come to this conclusion?”

And “crazy mama” wanted to jump up and down and scream, “I am losing my boy!”

But “understanding mama” happened to make her way out, and I’m so very glad she did.

Because as I have had some time to distance myself from my emotions and from that unexpected moment in time, I have come to realize that our relationship is not just about me and what I want and desire. No, it’s about the both of us, and that includes what you want and what you need.

And chances are, this won’t be the first or the last time you will want or need something that I won’t want, wouldn’t choose, or aren’t ready to let go of or give up. 

But son (like you often do) you were gracious when you asserted yourself.

You could have told me that you were done with kisses and that you were “so over” my motherly affection for all of your earthly eternity, but you didn’t just say that. No, you included a very important part, a part that the “emotional, logical, controlling, super-nostalgic, dramatic, counselor, crazy” mama in me could have easily overlooked if I hadn’t taken the time to really hear you.

“…but I still love you.” 

And since I know that this is just the beginning of our constantly-changing, ever-evolving relationship, I want to share a few commitments that I am going to work on as you we grow.

I commit to letting you grow up and allowing you to change. 

I commit to listening to your needs and hearing your heart. 

I commit to adjusting some of my desires to meet some of yours. 

I commit to loving you and us more than I love the past. 

And I commit to remembering “…but I still love you” through all of the many “I gave up on kisses” moments. 

Because son, no matter how big you grow or how far you roam, my love will always follow. 


Your Mama


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