the kiss

Last night, I came home late from work. As I pulled into the garage, the door to the basement opened as if by itself. There was no one in the doorway.

I sing-songed, “Who’s there?”

There was no answer.

As I got closer, I saw Brooke’s head sticking out from behind the door.

“Well, hello, little one!” I said, excited if not a little surprised to see her standing there.

“Hello, Mom” she said, just before running up the stairs and out of sight.

I called her back for what amounted to a perfunctory hug and sent her off on her way, back to finish her latest drawing in front of the TV.

After greeting Luau and Katie, changing my clothes and grabbing a plate from the kitchen, I joined Brooke in the den. I sat on the kid-sized chair next to her and dug into my dinner. The only noise in the room was coming from the TV. “Ya Da Da Da!” Elmo yelled.

And then it happened.

Out of nowhere, my girl kissed me. She stopped drawing, stopped watching Elmo, stopped everything else she was doing and thinking and feeling just long enough to plant the sweetest kiss on the universe on my cheek. And then, as if it never happened, she went back to what she’d been doing.

This morning, I woke up thinking about that kiss. Thinking about how far we’d come – both of us. And I remembered a post I’d written a lifetime ago. Not quite three years ago, yet a lifetime.

I searched for it this morning, using the one word that I knew that it contained – ‘restraint’.

I read it this morning and knew immediately that I needed to share it. Because if you’re still living there, you need to know.

That kiss – in whatever form it may take – is waiting.


The Hardest Thing ~ Originally published Feb, 2009

Restraint is not me.

It sits like an anvil on my chest, squeezing the air out of my lungs.

It reminds me, admonishes me.

Tsk tsk.

Approach slowly, gingerly – lest she run.

Every day, I fight to neutralize every molecule of my being, wrestling with my very nature.

Restraint is not me.

It runs contrary to everything I am.


My love for my girls is a vast, wild, physical force.

It is not quiet or calm or tame.

It can be soft and gentle, but at its core it is fierce and messy and loud.


I hate being away from my girls.

I miss them every day.

The separation from them burns. I feel it on my skin, in the dull ache in my gut.


As I pull into the garage every night, the anticipation begins to build.

My heart beats faster as I reach the basement steps.

They’re closer.

I can feel them.

I’m home.


I can’t wait to squeeze them, to kiss them, to inhale them.

I live for their sweet smell, their soft skin, their laughter. Oh, the laughter!

I want to bound up the stairs in a cloud of electric energy, scream their names, scoop them up in my arms.


I don’t.



Katie waits for me at the top of the stairs. We drink each other in.

Strong, potent, unfiltered.

I breathe.



Brooke is nowhere to be seen.

I stealthily, carefully hunt her down.

I quietly sing-song, ‘Where’s my baby girl?”

A tiny voice repeats a long-practiced “Here I am.”


I reach her.

She doesn’t move.

I move closer, crouch in front of her, consciously smiling.

Fighting the overwhelming, visceral urge to grab her.

“Hi, Baby.”

“Hi, Mama.”

“I missed you today, little love.”

“You did?”

“I did. May I have a hug, sweet girl?”

“You may.”

I work my way in.

Finally I squeeze her. We laugh.


I brush away a tear as I head upstairs to shed my work clothes.

The fight is exhausting.

I just want to love her.

Nearly three years later, I see what I couldn’t then. Loving her was exactly what I was doing.

24 thoughts on “the kiss

  1. A moment you will remember always, just as I remember my first unprompted hug. It’s all the sweeter for the wait, and the weight of it is even greater. I can just picture the scene unfolding and I smiled, you may have gotten your best gift of the season mama.

  2. Over Thanksgiving break I was sick and laying on the couch. My son was in and out of the room, not paying too much attention to me. Suddenly I felt a presence close to me and opened my eyes as he leaned in to kiss me. What a moment – rare and sweet. It still makes me cry when I think about it. Thank you for sharing your moment! It reminds me to be thankful for all the “little” things we experience every day!

  3. Isn’t it precious?! I live for those few and far between random acts of affection. I long for him to tackle me at the door the way his little brother does. But I’ll have to wait until he is ready.

  4. I had a similar experience with my daughter just this weekend. She has limited verbal skills but this weekend she gazed quickly at me with her big blue eyes and said “mommy sit on the couch” and patted next to her. I sat and she proceeded to give me the biggest hug. I didn’t want to ever leave that couch. It was heaven.

  5. I remember back in the day hearing an ABA therapist prompting Jake to say “I love you” and giving them hell, because I had specifically forbidden anyone to teach him that as a rote response. I needed it to come from him organically, when he was ready to say it and really knew what it meant.

    And I had a long wait, but when it came, I knew it was real. Jake has always been a kisser and hugger – he’s a sensory seeker. But those “I love you, Mommy”s are rare and far between. But when they come, usually quite out of the blue, they mean the world.

  6. It’s the way you love me
    It’s a feeling like this
    It’s centrifugal motion
    It’s perpetual bliss

    It’s that pivotal moment
    It’s subliminal
    This kiss, this kiss

    A whole new meaning for that song. I’m still waiting for my little boy’s kiss but I’m drinking in every single hug….. so happy for you!

  7. I pictured everything as you wrote this.

    Your garage, full of, well, the detritus of life –

    You putting on your ‘comfy pants’ as we like to call them

    And Brooke in front of the TV.


    I know you.

    I didn’t have to read Restraint.

    I know how you come home and have to check yourself not to consume your children whole.

    How for years and years you’ve wanted Brooke to come to you


    And now?


    It’s here. It’s come.

    Merry Christmas, honey.


  8. You must be on cloud nine! Really, talk about a triumph! I can only hope that it happens more frequently! Many parents take for granted how easily their children volunteer hugs and kisses and want to snuggle… they just don’t understand what it feels like NOT to be able to give or receive affection from your littles ones at whim! Hopefully this unsolicited smoochie is a sign of more to come… maybe a nice tight squeeeeeeeze is next! I’ll cross all my crossables in the hopes that this becomes a trend! Btw, the older post that you shared today is purely poetic! You really are a fantastic writer! ❤

  9. This is so beautiful I was bawling and I read it out loud to my mom it made her cry too. Thank you so much for sharing this My David is very much the same he will hug me if I want to and let me kiss him on the cheek sometimes but doesn’t return kisses I’m glad to know that it may just be waiting around the corner.

  10. what a sweet, sweet moment. and the nice thing is that other kisses are waiting for you. and hugs, and love. she’s saving it all up for you, building up a lovely collection of affectionate moments.

  11. What a wonderful reminder of appreciating the little things…although this is so big, it doesn’t totally qualify! But truly a warming story and reminder that there is always hope for those next steps to come. Thanks, Jess, for that reminder.

  12. With my girls, I pinch and bear-hug and zherbert and squeeze while telling them I love them through gritted teeth because i simply want to devour them whole. And I love the smell of them, too. I bury my face in their neck and inhale sharply whenever they’re close enough.

    And my boy, my only son, my first born, still stiffens at contact. He’ll tolerate a hug if he knows I need it, but only if my hair is pulled safely out of reach. And I tell myself that should be enough. It should be enough that he did it even though it is not pleasant for him. He loves me. 🙂

    Love Love LOVE this post. It helps, Jess.

    (and congrats on your unsolicited, unprompted smooch!)

  13. Perspective is precious. All you have ever done is love those girls. And they love you right back, Brooke often just has a different way of showing it. What a beautiful moment for you both! xoxo

  14. They know, they always know, and your love is so pure and wonderful that they couldn’t help but to know.
    It’s how you are and how they have become.
    Your babies will always be there to love you as you love them and as I love you…

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