This has been a good week. Busy, yes, but good. My schedule was comfortably full; I was able to get things accomplished without feeling like it was all too much. Of course, there are many days when I feel overextended and over-leveraged. There are moments when everyone needs my woman-power. Littles physically cling to me like white rice. Older children need me to pay attention even when they act like they don’t. Dirty dishes and heaping piles of laundry (some dirty, other clean and waiting to be folded) stare me down. I sneak away to nurse the baby in a cloister of calm, but everyone finds me. Amazingly, their GPS units consistently fail them whenever it’s shoes that are lost, but they locate Mom with speedy, pinpoint accuracy.
The child whose love language is affirmation needs to be affirmed. NOW. The gregarious extrovert who wants quality time just wants to hang out and do something – anything! – together. My older son jumps with boy energy on the bed, and his sisters shriek. A child who craves physical touch and nursed the longest takes my free arm – the one that’s not cradling the baby – and puts it around her as she nuzzles close. During the overwhelming times, I admit I’m tempted to pull away, to shout at everyone to just leave me alone. Sometimes I sadly do withdraw. But I’m growing just a little bit wiser and often embrace the chaos as well as the physical touch from my children.
My oldest asks me to tuck her in, and it’s late and I’m tired, but I pause and look at her waiting, hopefully, for my response. How can I say no when she’s on the cusp of becoming a young woman who will won’t need or even want me constantly around?
I look at the baby and how he stops nursing now and pulls off to just to look at me with a look of pure joy.
The child who needs to be affirmed affirms me. Just this week during one of our bedtime routines, she whispered before her eyes slipped shut, “I love you so much, Mommy. Thank you for being so amazing.”
My snuggle bug child just wants to be hugged. My little boy wants me to play Legos with him more than anything, and he sometimes just runs up to me and gives me a spontaneous, strong embrace. Last night he was playing outside and when I came out, he stopped, ran up to me, and announced, “I need to give Mama a hug.” He hugged me, and then he raced off to continue playing.
And it hits me as my baby smiles at me, I will never be this loved. These children adore me right now. They don’t want anything but my presence in their lives. They will one day have other loves, but right now they offer their hearts – sometimes their needy hearts – wholly and constantly to me.
Our auxiliary bishop was at our school’s Mass and Mary crowning earlier this week, and he talked about the importance of not only giving love but of receiving it. He told the story of a teenager who told his mom to please not hug and kiss him in front of friends at the airport before he left for a trip. She told him to get out then and take a taxi. He stayed put, of course, and then he endured her public displays of affection. I, too, have endured the love from my children. Endured. But love is to be received, not endured. Today I vow to receive their love gratefully, joyfully, to tuck even the oldest of children into their beds at night and to plant a soft kiss on their foreheads, and to give thanks that my children offer a singular love reserved only for me.