From the outside, I had the perfect love filled family growing up: Mom and Dad were happy together, we had a nice house, I had a sister, dogs, and tons of support around me. For these things I will always be thankful. Once I became a mom- I realized that what I experienced growing up did not prepare me for the role.
I was the sensitive child. The one who brought home stray dogs, hurt lizards, and friends from broken homes. I craved validation. I needed to hear I love you, good job, I’m proud of you. My dad coached all my little league teams. My mom made home cooked meals almost every day. But you know what? I never heard the words I needed so badly. Yes, they were there to take me where I needed to go, fill my belly, and make sure I was safe. But I never learned how to show someone that you love them. We didn’t hug or say I love you. I think because I was such a sensitive child, I was led to believe that my expectations for these behaviors were not based in reality. I was so scared that if I made a mistake my parents wouldn’t love me.
All this changed when I had my son. I felt like my heart was going to burst. I wished I had the words to explain to him just how much he was loved. How could I tell him? How could I show him? What would he need from me that I didn’t know how to give? How in the world has my mom gone my entire life without saying I love you to me?? Because I felt like I could say it a million times and it wouldn’t come close to covering how I feel.
I don’t remember how long it took me to realize it, but I knew I wanted to do the mom thing differently. Not in all aspects, because I am not saying I had a terrible childhood, however, I wanted to add a giant serving of love and kindness to my home. But how? I wasn’t and I am still not entirely sure. I just kind of wing it mostly. I work in as many hugs and cuddles as possible everyday.
Now that he’s 6, I think the average hug lasts about 4 seconds. I try really hard to slow myself down and return the love for as many seconds as I get. Sometimes when he first wakes up he wants to lay in bed for ten minutes and be silly or wrap himself up in my unnaturally soft fuzzy blanket, so I go with it. Sure, my brain is saying “get up, you’re going to be late!!” but this is when I have to remind myself, because my brain lies to me and says being on time or getting things done are way more important and satisfying, that these are the moments I didn’t get to have when I was a child.
My hope is that the small changes I am trying to make will ensure that I am always the safe place for him. It won’t be long until he’s taller than me and way cooler. I want to build the kind of relationship where he can tell me what’s going on without fear of judgment or ridicule. I want to be able to talk about when he’s messed up, explain that there are consequences for it, but he is still loved.
This all sounds great, but it’s really hard! I feel like I’m failing every day in one way or another. Sometimes I feel awkward about it, but I have to keep telling myself that this is what moms do.
We love our babies fiercely.
We stay up late to have extra minutes to ourselves.
Needing a break doesn’t make me a bad mom. Neither does needing to hug my baby, a lot.
So, I’m learning my own mom love language I guess. Going with my gut, and loving the heck out of this crazy kid in the best way I can. Hoping that I don’t give him mommy issues or have regrets about not knowing how to show him I’m here for him. I catch myself being too hard on him for one reason or another, and have to give myself a chance to reset. To remind myself that he’s small, he will make mistakes, and I have to help him learn from it without threatening his self-worth.
I can also learn from others who have their own love languages with their kids, too. What do YOU do? This mom thing is hard, but we can figure it out together!