“Is it just me, or is it weird when parents kiss their kids on the lips?”
This was a sincere question I asked my husband while halfway through my first pregnancy. I thought it was pretty cut and dry. You kiss romantic partners on the lips. That’s it. The end.
I had no idea there was a completely other side to the argument. I literally could not picture myself kissing my kid on the lips.
“I plan on kissing our kids on the lips,” he said. To him it wasn’t weird at all, just a natural way of showing affection.
Convinced that maybe my husband was just from a super-lovey family, and thus had a skewed view of things, I polled some mom friends of mine to get additional insight.
As you probably guessed by now, it turns out I was the weird one. Most folks are totally on board with planting a smacker on their kids.
Maybe it’s because my family isn’t super affectionate. I mean, I still hug my parents good night when we’re together, and sometimes I’ll still climb into my mom’s lap just to annoy her, but other than that we’re not a real touchy-feely family. I can count on one hand the times my dad has kissed me on the cheek. And I’m fine with that. It all seems normal to me. I don’t question his love.
In fact, growing up, I thought we were on the “more affectionate” side of the scale.
I never thought there was anything necessarily wrong about kissing your kid on the lips. It was merely something I wasn’t personally exposed to, so I had a hard time picturing it as a natural way of showing our love to our children. Becoming a mom, though, tends to bring up those things you’ve never considered and makes you choose a side, because right or wrong, you’re going to act a certain way and you may as well give it some thought beforehand.
So then my daughter was born — healthy and happy and newborn snuggly. I loved cuddling with her, hugging her, rocking her, and kissing her on the cheek, on the top of her head, kissing her little nose and tiny toes, but I still couldn’t bring myself to kiss her on the lips. And I wish I could more eloquently put my thoughts into words, but it boils down to the fact that it just felt weird to me.
That is until she wanted to start kissing me.
Then it all changed in a whirlwind, the way things do when you’re stumbling your way through the first-time motherhood experience.
She wasn’t quite a year old, but well on her way to becoming a toddler — rolling and crawling, laughing and smiling. She was a happy baby who loved being held as much as she loved being left alone on a blanket in the living room. She was having one of her introverted independent moments while I sat on the floor a few feet away from her stuffing cloth diapers. Giving a giggle, she rolled her way over to me and climbed up my leg so she was all up in my grill. Smiling, she leaned forward and gave me a big, drooly, sloppy kiss right on my lips.
It was the first time I remember her initiating that kind of affection which is why it’s seared into my memory. All the time in her short little life I had never kissed her on the lips, and I thought we were both fine and dandy with that arrangement until that afternoon. She decided that level of affection wasn’t enough for her. She wanted to show me love her way. And her way included giving her mama kisses right on the mouth.
In that moment, she changed my opinion, she changed my mind, and she changed my heart. It was the first of many motherhood moments where my kids’ actions changed some long-held belief of mine. She took my worldview and shook it up like a snow globe, and when the flakes settled, I was a mom who was 100% on board with kissing my kids on the lips. She flipped that like a switch, because in that moment, I realized there is literally nothing weird about it. I would never force my kids to show any affection they were uncomfortable with, but now kissing each other isn’t something I really think about. It’s just a natural way to show our love for one another.
Today, that happy, drooly baby is 5, and her little brother is 4. I kiss both of them on the mouth on a regular basis, and none of us think it is weird. If that’s weird to you, I completely understand. We all draw our own boundaries, for our own reasons. And if it’s totally normal to you, I understand that too — now.