From the moment I can remember, you have always kissed me goodnight, goodbye or even good luck. I have ducked, dodged, avoided and even (gasp) brushed off your kisses. They were a mushy show of affection that only a mother could give, and since I was a teenager, I have hated the impending doom of having a peck planted on my face.
I can still recall growing anxious thinking of creative ways to say goodnight without getting close enough to risk being caught in another kiss on the cheek. All of this makes me sound like a pretty terrible kid; maybe even an ungrateful daughter. But, let me assure you that my avoidance was not time wasted. You see, after years of evading your affection, I finally get it Mom.
For the first time, I can truly put myself in your shoes and it has taught me a priceless lesson.
It’s difficult to imagine now, but I was once your delicate, precious, vulnerable little human who so desperately needed your love and protection. You gave up your sleep, your body, and your freedom to see to it that I was safe and loved.
You kissed me because you couldn’t help but have love overflowing so much that the physical expression of this love became your gentle kiss on my cheek. It wasn’t a choice you got to make, it was an instinct you had to follow.
As I grew up, eventually moved away, got married and we both aged several more years, your kisses turned into something of an endearing novelty. I actually began to appreciate that we had fewer of these kisses ahead of us than we had behind us and that was an emotional realization. Yet, even though I no longer fought off your affection, I still wasn’t fully on board with receiving it either. Until …
Late one November night, a tiny baby girl entered the world and when she was placed on my chest in that delivery room, I instinctively looked down at her downy baby curls and planted a long-awaited kiss on her precious little head. It was the kind of kiss only a mother could give and that’s when it hit me.
THIS tiny being was the exact same thing I was for you decades ago, long before I grew an attitude, an opinion and my independence.
There it was – the veil of understanding was lifted in an instant! It took more than thirty years and finally having a daughter of my own to fully grasp the weight of what has driven you to love me all of these years. I get that now. I truly understand. I just wish I had appreciated it sooner.
Looking back at our relationship through the lens of my newfound mom-perspective, I am struck with both joy and pain. I delight in the fact that I am following the same pattern of outpouring affection on my baby girl, as you still do for me. But, it pains me to think that one day she may recoil from my love as I once did to you.
It’s a sobering thought to know that now, my very own feelings and emotions are not so surely my own. They belong to a fiery little girl,who drives me absolutely crazy sometimes, but whom I also miss with an aching heart when I’m away from her all day.
I’m guessing this description isn’t far from what you once felt (and likely still do feel) for me? Is that why you still say “miss you” when we hang up from our calls, despite having just spoken the day before?
When will it end? Will I ever regain control of my senses and my emotions? Probably not, as evidenced by your enduring care, concern, and devotion as my mom even to this day.
As I stand on the other side of the divide between what I once believed and what I now know, I see the valuable knowledge that I will hopefully carry with me in the decades ahead with my daughter. If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, she will more than likely start ducking and dodging my kisses one day (too soon I’m afraid).
But I also know that the greatest gift I can give her is the consistent reinforcement that she is loved beyond measure.
I will remind myself that you never stopped showing me love — even on the days when I most certainly acted unlovable. If (and when) my little girl morphs into a hormone-fueled opponent, I will follow your example and continue showering her with whatever affection I can manage as she squirms away. You were steadfast enough to do this for me, and my hope is that I’m strong enough to do it for her.
It’s ultimately not up to me, it’s my heart that’s leading the way, and I am at its mercy to try and keep up.
So, despite my many years of stubborn refusal, thank you for showing me how much I am loved and how to show that love to my own children.
I never knew something I hated so much could actually be something I loved.
I’m really sorry I hated your kisses.