I remember the first time I kissed him like it was yesterday.
He smelled like heaven. My love for him was streaming down my face, leaving his little cheeks wet. I kissed away the tears. He was warm and soft and the very definition of perfection. Before having kids, I never fully understood parents who kissed their kids on the lips; the lips seemed so intimate to me. Yet the first time they placed him in my arms my lips instinctively pressed against his. They lingered over them while I inhaled his scent; a scent that was so brand new yet so familiar to me all at the same time.
I kissed him every chance I got. When I was changing his diaper, when we were cuddling before bed, when we were playing on the floor. I kissed him until I started to wonder if it was abnormal to want to kiss someone every second of your life. He loved my kisses. He giggled as I snuggled in close. He grabbed my face in his chubby little hands and would look straight into my eyes. He saw right into the depth of me. In those moments; my face in his hands, our noses touching, it never crossed my mind that the time would come when he didn’t want me to kiss him anymore.
Yet that’s where this journey seems to be heading. Now he’s a little man and I’m just his mum. Mum kisses are more embarrassing than anything at this time of his life. I lean in and I inhale his smell, which is something like sweat, a little like the rubber of either his soccer ball or his basketball and nothing at all like a baby. When he sees me coming in he leans his head down and my lips hit the top of his hair.
I want to ask him why. Why he doesn’t want to kiss me anymore? If it was something that I did? Or maybe something that I’m not doing? I want to demand that he allow me to hug him close and kiss him at my own will. I want to but I can’t.
He’s my son but it’s his body. He gets to decide when someone kisses him. It’s not my call to make. He needs to know that he is allowed to make these types of decisions; who gets in close to him and when.
While my heart breaks just a little each time he offers up his head and reminds me that he doesn’t like kisses, I know this is just a stage. A normal little boy stage where kisses are gross and their mum’s aren’t cool. I am perfectly aware of the fact that as much as my public displays of affection just aren’t his thing right now he still needs to feel how much I love him and I try to show him as often as I can.
I know eventually our journey will bring us to a place where my love for him won’t be embarrassing but welcomed and appreciated. So for now, I have to settle for a hug or a nose kiss or whatever he’s ready to share with me in the moment. I relish in our quiet time together; early in the morning, when it’s just the two of us and he tells me all about his life. Or our before bed stories when he asks me to stay with him for just five minutes while he falls asleep. My favourite moment is when he's snuggled in tightly, looking innocent and peaceful, his arm resting around my neck. I whisper “I love you Mr. T.” and he whispers right back “I love you too, Mummy.”
In all honesty, when I first read the email I thought to myself "this can’t be real." No one would actually send something like this. Then I started to think of all the celebrations I’ve been to in the past couple of years and how many invitations I receive that specifically state “monetary gifts only please” or ask for gift cards to specific stores and I realize that this isn’t in fact unrealistic. It just now extends to a child’s birthday party!
When you attend a celebration of any sort, be it a birthday, a shower, a wedding or even a house warming, it’s customary to bring a gift. Most people don’t walk into these types of celebrations without bringing a gift but we should all understand that gift giving is not mandatory. Right? We do all understand that don’t we? When did it become an acceptable practice to dictate what someone else gives you as a present
I understand the concept of registering for showers; some people like to choose from a list of items they know you are going to use. I will even concede to asking for donations to a charity of choice in lieu of a gift or specifically stating no presents please. Sometimes all you want to do is celebrate with those close to you and you don’t want guests to feel obligated to bring anything. What I don’t understand is being so rigid in your expectation of what your guests are going to bring as a gift and to go as far as tell them that if it’s not on the list it will be returned! It's a gift, not an entry fee!
Every Christmas growing up, my great grandmother used to send me a box of cherry filled chocolates. They were terrible. Yet, I began to understand that she didn’t have to send me anything at all and I appreciated that she thought of me, picked something out and put it in the mail.
Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids how to be gracious and appreciative or should we just raise them to think that they will always get exactly what they want each and every time? Are we going to lose the excitement of going out, looking for that special gift for someone we love, wrapping it up and waiting to see their face when they open it? Often gifts aren’t even opened at parties anymore. It seems to have come down to just an exchange of money.
Maybe I’m the one who is being unrealistic. Maybe I don’t understand this new customary practice of gift giving. Perhaps, but I will happily accept a box of chocolate covered cherries if that is what you choose to bring me.
I am a planner. I like to be prepared. When I was pregnant, I read everything I could find about parenting. Every book, article, and blog I could get my hands on; I devoured them all. Somehow it made me feel as though I was ready to face motherhood head on. I was ready for breastfeeding, diaper changing, sleep schedules, and baby bathing. Yet as prepared as I was for motherhood; regardless of how many books I read or how many experts I talked to, there was just nothing that could prepare me for some aspects of my new life.
No one told me that being a mother would hurt...in so many ways. Tiny baby nails can do some serious damage, including torn corneas from little fingers finding their way into half closed eyes. Carrying four year-olds up and down the stairs when they aren’t feeling well - or let's admit it, when they just want to be carried - has left my back in a permanent spasm. The physical pain can be managed but the feeling that I’m left with when my child tells me I’m the worst mummy in the world pains me the most, even if the reason is that I won’t let them have a candy before dinner. I know that as my children grow into their own people and begin their journey away from me, pride will mix with the pain of losing a little bit of them with each passing year.
I have always been an emotional person but nothing could prepare me for the amount of tears I have shed since becoming a mother. I have cried loud, uncontrollable tears of pain as Mr. T laid struggling in an incubator. My body was rocked with sobs of relief when, after hours of surgery, the surgeon finally came out to let us know all went well. We cried together as I held him in my arms while doctors poked at him and he held onto me in fear. I have cried tears of joy when each of my babies grew into toddlers and learned to walk and talk. Though breastfeeding was a bit of a struggle for me, I cried when Ms. J weaned herself and no longer turned to me at night. When Mr. T. read to me for the first time and Ms. J. wrote me her first note, pride caused the tears to flow. Whenever I read a story of a parent losing their child or watching their child suffer in any way, I mourn with them and cry, feeling their heartache so deeply. Each and every time I feel as though I have cried all of my tears, motherhood overwhelms me once again and I learn that tears are something you never run out of.
All my pre-child reading didn't prepare me for the strength I would gain as soon as my kids were born. After 26 hours of labour I felt like superwoman! I didn't do anything different from what millions of women do each and every day yet I felt so powerful. I mean I grew a human in my body...twice! I can carry a 46 pound six year-old because he hurt his foot. I can pick up a four year-old and pull her right out of that tiny front seat in a shopping cart, even when she's trying with all her might to stay right in that cart. The physical strength is nothing; having kids helped me find my voice. Suddenly I stopped caring what people think of me, I don't feel the same intense need to please anyone but myself and my kids. Is the fact that my baby is crying bothering you? So sorry; she's a baby, when you learn to control your judging I'll expect my baby to learn to control her crying. I can say no! No I won't go into a public bathroom to feed my baby. Sorry grandma; I know you really really want to have them for a sleepover but I"m just not ready yet. My job is to put them first and suddenly I am capable of doing that all the time.
I knew that I would love my children even before they were even born, yet I had no idea just how deep that love would run. I didn’t know that love could physically hurt, that your heart could be so full that it ached. No one could have prepared me for how my heart filled instantly the moment I first laid eyes on my children. I wasn’t prepared for the feeling that coursed through my body when my baby wrapped her little hand around my finger or when he slept soundly in my arms letting out the occasional sigh, telling me he felt perfectly at home right there in my arms. I had no understanding of what it was like to be willing to climb the tallest mountain or cross the deepest ocean to keep someone safe, healthy and happy. I didn’t know how much closer I would feel towards Mr. C. I didn’t know that it was possible to love someone so unconditionally and not expect anything in return.
I prepared myself to the best of my ability but there are some things you just can’t plan for. Motherhood is full of surprises; wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking surprises. I never really dealt well with the unknown but becoming a parent has taught me to find the beauty in these new unplanned moments of life. I can't wait to see what other surprises are in store for me!