Every night at bedtime my 5-year-old and I have a special routine. It’s a routine he started one night. He gives me a big hug and then five kisses. He kisses me on my right cheek, then on my left cheek and then gives me three kisses on the lips. Then he repeats the whole process at least three times. 

It’s no secret my little guy loves his momma. He is always giving me hugs and kisses, sitting in my lap, asking to snuggle, and following me around the house like he’s my shadow. He is my super affectionate one for sure!

My 8-year-old used to be just like that. For three years, he had me all to himself, and I was the sole owner of all his hugs and kisses and snuggles. He freely showered me with love all day, every day. Then his brother came along and my oldest discovered he’d have to share mommy. But he still gave me plenty of lovin’ despite that fact. And I to him. 

Recently, things have begun to change. My oldest son is no longer as easily affectionate as he used to be. When bedtime rolls around, instead of showering me with hugs and kisses like his brother does, and he used to do, I’m lucky if I get one kiss on the cheek from him. Every time I lean in to kiss him goodnight, he pulls away. And he laughs too. He thinks its funny to refuse his mother her hugs and kisses. I can sometimes manage to get one hug and one kiss on the cheek, but not always. 

I’m slowly seeing his kisses fade away…

He’s only 8 years old but it seems as if he is older. Some days I look at him and I wonder how we got to this point so quickly. Wasn’t I just changing his diapers not that long ago? Didn’t I just drop him off for his first day at preschool? It feels like it was only days ago when he was holding my hand everywhere we went. 

My little boy is becoming a young man. Soon enough he’ll be a teenager. Heaven knows he already thinks he’s one.

“Mom, I look like a teenager with my hat on backwards!” he likes to say.

Where did my little boy go?

While I know the constant hugs and kisses won’t last forever, I wish they did. I so adore my boys and love their affection. I love peppering them with hugs and kisses and snuggles and having mine returned. It makes me sad to think they will fade away and be replaced with “Ugh, mom, stop that.”

Boys grow and soon become easily embarrassed by displays of affection from and to their mothers. Pretty soon my oldest won’t even want to be seen with me in public.

I’m dreading that day. 

But I must remind myself: Fading hugs and kisses don’t mean they don’t love me. I know that. Just like I know my boys will always love me as I will always love them. Fading hugs and kisses just mean they are growing up.

But still … I’m not ready.

There are days I pull my hair out from their fighting, attitude, tantrums and messes. Oh and must not forget how they constantly ask for things and don’t give me a moment’s rest. But for all those frenzied days, there are even more days where I love to sit and just listen to them laugh and play. Even at this moment I can hear them happily play wrestling in the other room and having giggling fits. It brings a smile to my face every time. Just like I smile when I can see little bits of their personalities emerge more and more. I enjoy listening to all the silly things they say, seeing how they interact with friends and develop likes and dislikes. 

I love watching them grow, but I hate it at the same time. I hate it because I know what it means. It means my boys are no longer my “little boys.” It means they will soon be in middle school then high school and eventually college. It means that in the blink of an eye they will be grown with a family all their own. 

It’s difficult to watch as the kisses begin to fade away…

I’m pretty sure my youngest will be handing out hugs and kisses to his mommy pretty freely for a long time yet. And I’m going to hold onto that as long as I can. I’ll also do my best to sneak them from my 8-year-old as much as possible. I’ll take whatever he’s willing to give.

And I’m going to hold onto these sweet precious moments so that I can remember them always when the kisses fade away.