I kiss you differently.
I kiss you knowing just how quickly this second will slip away from us, knowing it will disappear inch by inch, moment by moment, until I glance up from the trenches and it’s gone.
I kiss you without frantic fear, just putting my face on your soft belly and breathing it in with familiarity. You are new and old at the same time.
I kiss you just to smell that perfect, sweet, milky breath, your mouth wide open and drooling down my face. I nibble your little ears and gum your chin while your brother runs into the room in a makeshift Ninja costume, grabs your hand, shouts, “Hi Ben, hi Ben!”, and then runs back out again. I kiss the soles of your chilly, clammy, little feet.
I kiss you without tabulating your wake ups or timing your feeds. I kiss you knowing that you have been who you are since the moment you breathed the air into your lungs and cried your first cry, and everyone wept with relief.
I kiss you and my lips melt into your soft, squishy cheeks over and over while you giggle and grab my hair. I kiss you with a beautiful ache in my belly.
I kiss you understanding that all I can do is shepherd you from one milestone to the next, holding my breath, balancing on a wire, crossing my fingers that if I do it with enough grace and love and humility and courage, you just might keep letting me kiss you.
I kiss you trusting that this will be just fine. We will be just fine.