by Saruskabeth, of http://www.threeinthree.com
At midnight, on a cold february day in 2007, I held in my hands a tiny, wrinkled, screaming infant. And I fell in love. Every day, all day long, I would kiss his little fingers and belly and toes and nose and tell him “I love you.” When he gazed up at me in awe, I told him, “I love you.” When he cooed and smiled and (finally!) laughed, I told him, “I love you!” When he cried and screamed, I told him, “I love you!” He learned to roll over, crawl, walk, talk…and everyday he heard, “I love you! I love you!”
I love my children with everything I am. They are my world, my priority above all else. But as they get older, as the “novelty” wears off, so to speak, there are moments, sometimes days, when I don’t express my love as easily as I once did. When Dewy spills his juice for the fourth time, or when Paby looks me in the face and screams, “YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE!” When Mazzen throws a fit because I won’t leave my boobie hanging out all day, and when the boys destroy their room moments after I finish putting everything away.
And to be completely honest, in those moments I don’t feel very loving. I feel angry. Taken advantage of. Disrespected. At the very least frustrated. And, rather than speak out of love, I sometimes speak out of anger. I say, “you’re driving me crazy!” And “why are you trying to make me mad?” In those moments, I put the boys in time out and say, “you’re being very naughty,” and “I don’t want to hear it.”
One particularly rough day I became more agitated than I can ever remember being at a child. I was so angry I couldn’t speak. I clenched my fists at my sides, felt my jaw grow stiff, when to my surprise, I heard a voice in my head say “I love you.” I looked at my child’s tearful face and realized that he was fully aware of how angry I was; he didn’t need to hear me say it. What he did need was reassurance. So I knelt down, took him by the hands and said, “I love you.” And oh, the relief that flooded my body and my son’s face! To know that, despite his misbehavior and disobedience, he was still loved!!!
It struck me then how important it is to express your love; not just when the warmth of it overwhelms your senses to the point you can’t help but say it, but when you are so angry you don’t want to. Kids are strong, yet fragile. They aren’t fully in control of their actions, and can become frustrated at themselves when they feel they have disappointed a parent. Just to know that, despite their outburst, their behavioral faux pas, they are still loved…it can change everything.
Now, when one of my children does something that makes me angry, I remind myself of a few things.
1.) I’m not going to actually go insane because the kids are acting up.
2.) No, they really don’t try to infuriate me.
3.) This is the child I carried in my womb for nine months, in my arms for many more, and will carry in my heart for eternity.
Paby, Dewy, Mazzen, Baby#4: I love you. I always will.