The most painful first of all

When I became a mother for the first time, I knew that there was a whole world of ‘firsts’ out there for me to discover – the first smile, the first giggle, the first time your baby feels the sun on her face, her first snowfall, the first time she crunches an autumn leaf or feels sand between her toes, the first time she holds your face in her hands and kisses you, the first time she stands alone, the first tentative step. Every day was another first.
By the time my little man was six I thought all of those milestones had passed. I mean I know there are a few more, but they aren’t coming for a few years: first love, first chest hair, first time shaving, first time his voice breaks, and so on
But I was wrong – there was one more first.

In addition to all the wonderful ‘firsts’, there are, of course, a few less wonderful ones. The first time you see their blood, their first sick bug, the first fever, the first trip to A&E, the first overnight hospital stay, their first day of school, the first time they come home in tears because a friend has been cruel.
This first caught me out utterly unprepared.
My son has always been tactile and affectionate – he likes to snuggle on the sofa while watching TV, he loves to roll around while being tickled and he loves cuddles and kisses.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to kiss my son good night, as I have done every night of his life … and he rubbed it off.
It felt as if I’d been stabbed in the heart.
Almost every time I’ve forced a kiss on him since, he has rubbed it off.
We’ve made a bit of a game of it – if he hasn’t managed to rub off the kiss within ten seconds it’s too late – it has absorbed in and remains there permanently.
But it hurts.
There’s a book I read by Steve Biddulph called Raising Boys . I read it as soon as I found out that my second child was going to be a boy – I thought I should be prepared. In it, if I recall correctly, he basically says that boys tend to all about their mums until they are six, then they start to shift their allegiance towards their dads. He was so right. My little man, who has, right up until his sixth birthday been MY little man, is suddenly daddy’s boy.
My little girl has always been daddy’s girl.
Where does that leave me?
The sharp pain of this rejection reminds me that my children are growing up, so fast. Soon we’ll be ships passing in the night – as they spend all their time at high school, doing homework, going out with friends. I’ll become a taxi/cleaning lady paid, if I’m lucky, with a quick kiss.
Today I will be writing: spending time with my characters, who can only do as I dictate.
But I will be looking forward to picking my daughter up from school and pressing a kiss onto her curly head and then picking the little guy up from rugby club and forcing a kiss on him as he squirms to escape.

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  1. Oh, I remember that stage… it does hurt! I have two boys, both students. Nowadays I get kissed if I hold my cheek up when they’re leaving or arriving – but only if a longer absence is involved… A year or two ago I was lucky to be kissed at all, so things are improving! But they show their love in other ways – fixing things around the flat, doing ‘strongman’ jobs, the odd text message. It’s the way of the world. As long as our kids know they are loved, it’s okay. They all go through the ‘cactus’ stage when it’s hard to cuddle them! xx

    • I hate the cactus stage!

      • Oh I know, it’s tough, and all you can do is notice especially the other ways they show their affection. Which is no consolation at all, I know. But I had a lovely email from one son yesterday and the other kissed me goodbye 🙂 Older sons are lovely too!

  2. Bryony, it’s not forever. My boys have gone back to kissing me again (thought they had to go through the tunnel of teenagerhoood first). Solidarity! …you could have another baby?

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