How do I love thee?

A question/prompt from momsoap, who has a LOVEly project this month, with the goal of ”Giving Proofs of Love”. Here is my brief essay on an action or actions that I do to show my kids that I love them.

I feel that from the nature of this Momsoap’s request, she is looking for some practical how-to’s. Some, “I send notes in the lunchbox” (which I don’t do), or “I have dates with my 5-year old son”(which I do). But what comes to mind for me is what I learned after the birth of my second child, my daughter. It wasn’t personal, it was just that it took some “adjustment” to being the parent of two. The first few months – our babymoon period – when she slept a lot and I thought parenting two was easier than I expected, all was well. But from there, for about another 6 month period, there was a slow, subtle swallowing into a hole of losing myself, my luster, my purpose. My husband didn’t understand what I was going through, or even that I was going through anything at all. This culminated in a lot of anger towards him – alas, I had someone to blame for my predicament. Depression, however, when and if one comes out the other side, always seems to bring with it lots of life lessons, lots of personal growth, lots of compassion. What I came out on the other side with (after some solid therapy), was a particular perspective on mother-hood, and the best way to show my kids love. It’s a seemingly simple idea, but I think I might be working on it my whole life. I’m not sure if one day it all sinks in and, ‘voila’, it’s just there like the perfect pair of shoes sitting on the store shelf that makes one inhale, and go, “oh, these are so me”, or if it’s another subtle journey culminating into some form of enlightenment. It is this very simple thing: It is to love myself.

Example: Shortly after ‘coming out’ of my depression, though this wasn’t one miraculous moment, but a journey, for sure, I felt ready to go back to work – something I felt was needed to bring balance into this mama-being. But it was awkward timing and I wasn’t really ready to LOOK for work yet. So, I signed up for a crazy thing called National Write a Book Month (Nanowrimo.com). I wrote a novel in 30 days. It wasn’t a good novel, but it was a novel – a piece of work – of written work – written by me. I was SO fortunate to have a supporting husband (yes, the same one I was spewing daggers at months before), and some part-time help. Every day as I left the house to go write for 2-3 hours, I felt a little guilty for doing something so ‘frivolous’ – doing something just because I love doing it! But it fed my soul in a way it had never been fed before. Like a loaf of bread and a slice of cheesecake to someone who had been on the Atkins diet. I ate it up every day, licking my lips as I entered back into my home. Just by feeding myself for those three hours – for doing something so totally fulfilling to me, I was a very different person in the afternoons with my kids than I had ever been before, or had been for a long time, since my second was born. It wasn’t in what I did, or what we did, but how we did it. I was so present with them – there was nowhere else I wanted to be – nothing else that I was dreaming of doing while I was with them. By loving myself enough to DO something JUST for me, the love, it floweth over, and my children were there to lap it up.

The other important part of this is that not only do I get to learn to love myself in this process, which once this idea is embraced, is a treat beyond any other, but my kids will naturally learn this from me. If I can give my children only one thing through my parenting, I would be beside myself with joy if only they grow up always and truly loving themselves for the beautiful beings they are. My love, expressed as their own.