Good Night Kisses

Who can ever forget those early days of dating when the evening came to a close and you wondered, “Will I get a kiss at the door?” Or worse, “Oh my God! How do I get away from this creepy person?”

Fortunately, or unfortunately (however you want to look at it), the rules to date night pecks don’t change when you find yourself single again after many years of marriage. But no matter what, kissing for me has been an important ritual my entire life.

When I was a little girl, my mother’s nightly routine demanded that my brothers and I travel from sibling to sibling and kiss each other goodnight. Between the ages of two and eight, it wasn’t a difficult request. We were young and actually liked one another. But then came the years where anyone of the opposite sex had cooties. Those caresses of the lips occurred with a huge sigh, a rolling of the eyes, and were laced with immeasurable disgust.

The custom continued in high school, only now it felt somewhat incestuous. I was supposed to be kissing boys in parked cars and behind the bleachers, not my brothers. On top of it feeling weird, they were developing new body smells and I had to hold my breath or plug my nose before I planted one on each cheek.

College arrived and I was finally out of the house. It was time to experiment and let loose with non-family members. I was hoping for more frequency, but instead I became a buddy to all my male friends. Unfortunately, I spent four rather dry years waiting for some action, but years later when my children arrived, the kissing never stopped.

Yes, I have to admit I’m one of those sappy moms that couldn’t keep her hands off her babies. Getting my children to bed at night took forever because it was my last chance in the day to hold onto them. It was my way of saying “you’re safe,” but, more importantly, I wanted them to know they were adored.

As I tucked them nightly into their Power Ranger sheets or Barbie comforters, I found my way under the covers too and exchanged butterfly kisses all over their sweet, innocent faces. When that became a little too weird for their liking in Junior High School, I’d pretend I had something extremely important that needed to be whispered in their ear. Leaning over their still young bodies, I’d get one in quick before they turned their heads and told me to go away.

But late at night, when the house was still and all that could be heard was rhythmic, peaceful breathing, I’d creep into their rooms, softly stroke their maturing heads and kiss them one last time with the prayer, “Please God, keep them safe.”

The teen years arrived and it was no different. I had to get the last kiss in, but this proved to be more difficult. I was getting older, going through menopause and needed my sleep. They seemed to get younger with every breath they took and their unbridled energy kept them up late at night. This occasionally tempted my darlings to pursue activities that are a major cause for concern for all parents. Wondering if they’d been up to no good, my need for smooching took on a new meaning.

No matter what time of night they returned, it was obligatory that they come into my bedroom, wake me up and give me a final kiss before heading off to la la land. Each child was required to deposit one final smooch to pass my “sniff” test. If there was even a hint of peppermint gum on their breath, they were busted.

My kids are adults now. They no longer answer to me. They make their own choices, right or wrong and when they spend the night, I don’t have the power to tell them what time to be home. But without my expectation, the tradition remains the same. One-by-one, no matter what time it is, they tip toe into my room, kiss me on the cheek, and say, “I’m home, Mom.” I then sleep peacefully for I know they’re safe.

It’s funny how simple traditions start innocently but turn into something incredibly deep and heart-warming. It’s never too late to begin one either. Affection is something we all talk about, but may have a hard time showing. Kisses and hugs are simple gestures to give and something everyone benefits from.

My girls are women. My son towers over me and you know what? I still can’t keep my hands off them. I guess old habits just die hard.