I Love You

How do you express love for one another in your family?

In our family there are the obvious signs–hugs whenever the kids will let me give them one, and kisses on the check at bedtime–and the less obvious signs–being present with them, listening to them, and trying to teach or help them with something when they are curious or struggling–love comes in many forms.

My oldest is starting to ‘outgrow’ hugs and kisses which is bittersweet. I knew this time would come. My youngest loves hugs, getting kisses on the cheek and saying, “I love you!” In fact, he enjoys saying ‘I love you’ so much, we’ve determined he means it sometimes, and other times uses it as a diversionary tactic: to delay having to set the table, or get started on homework. It’s not uncommon for you to ask him to do one of these tasks and hear in response, “Mom, I love you!” or “Dad, I love you!” While it’s very sweet, my husband and I realize what he’s up to. Still I’m amazed that he figured out how to use the phrase to his advantage at such a young age.

Getting the kids to take a bath or shower can be a struggle, particularly for our youngest. He will delay the inevitable as long as he can, then go into the bathroom and take his time getting cleaned and/or getting dressed. After a shower one morning, as I was trying to prompt him to hurry up to dry off and get dressed quickly so we could get out of the house to school and work, he didn’t fuss or simply say, “Okay, Mom.” Instead he said from the other side of the door, “I love you, Mom.” I replied, “I love you too, but we need to hurry!” After several more minutes he emerged, still with a towel around him, but with a big grin on his face. “Urgh! Why aren’t you ready?” I asked. He gestured towards the fogged-up mirror. On it I could see in his handwriting the words: To Mom, I Love You.  How could I stay mad? This time his message felt part diversionary tactic, part love letter. Regardless, I treasured his simple message. It’s not everyday your morning gets interrupted by a proclamation of love. It’s one of those moments I’ll remember forever.

When has your child caught you off-guard with their love for you?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

Young Love

Who was your first crush?

The first person I can remember swooning over was Shaun Cassidy. Yes, that Shaun Cassidy. I had a Shaun Cassidy iron-on t-shirt and thought he was absolutely dreamy. I had no idea what I was feeling other than I thought this boy was really handsome, and could sing a catchy tune, and would love it if he felt I was dreamy too. My first, non-fantasy crush was a boy in my third grade class, Brian. He and I had always been friendly to each other, but one day someone came into class, said something mean to me, and Brian defended me. I was smitten.  I was seeing Brian in a new light. He seemed like more than a friend, but someone who cared. I didn’t know what to do with this feeling as an eight-year-old. It faded quickly once Brian decided he wanted to date my classmate, Mallory. I was a little heart-broken, but got over it quickly.

My boys are both interested in other people. My oldest is interested in girls, but not sure what do to with it. Similar to how I was in third grade. There are many myths around what you’re supposed to do, and when you’re supposed to do them, and how you’re supposed to magically figure out how love works. My oldest decided he liked one of his classmates and she would make a good girlfriend because they like the same things and get along. He has taken no action to let her know how he feels. On the flip side, my youngest has no fear around ‘dating.’ He and his classmate even had an ‘engagement’ picnic last year. I have to admit my husband and I were surprised when this happened as we thought he and this girl were just good friends, but  it’s fun to hear him still talk about all the wonderful things they are going to do when they are both 25 including getting married, where they are going to live, what their jobs will be and how many kids they will have. (I have no idea how they came up with this all happening at 25, but it’s really sweet to hear them talk about it).

What do you do with young love?  How do you dip your toe into romance at such a young age? Of course, my husband and I have told the kids that they don’t need to worry about dating for many years, there is no pressure. And if they like someone, the best way to let them know is to tell them. Yes, it can be scary, and yes, you can get rejected, but you’re not going to know if you don’t try. We’ve offered to role play with them to help them figure out how or what they want to say to someone they are interested in. Of course, my youngest doesn’t seem to think he needs much help, since he’s already ‘engaged’, but my oldest does. Fear of looking stupid, being embarrassed, or rejected are holding him back. I think most of us can understand how he feels. Young love is hard.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, there is pressure to “show how much you love someone” or at least, identify someone you like. That’s a lot for anyone at any age. My oldest isn’t ready to reveal his feelings for anyone just yet. I hope with my husband and my help, we can give him the courage that he needs to try when he’s ready.

How did you experience young love?  How are you helping your child navigate feelings for another person?

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

 

#Lovin’ It

With abundant heart decorations in stores, my kids have expressed an interest in why we celebrate Valentine’s Day, and who their valentine should be (thankfully, it appears the only ideas coming to mind are Mom and Dad–phew!). It’s forced me to come to terms with my own experience with this well-intended holiday.

I have to admit, Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. While there was a lot of people in love, I wasn’t exactly loving it. I stressed out about who would be my Valentine as a teen and young adult, when I was dating I stressed about what to get my Valentine. How serious is this relationship anyway? What does my gift say about the relationship–it’s too serious or not serious enough? Hard to find the romance amongst all the stress. After getting married and had kids, I’ve stressed about trying to remember the holiday and take action on it. While I like the idea of romantic gestures, I don’t think they should be stress inducing or be limited to Valentine’s Day. My idea of what a romantic gesture has changed over time too. I used to crave flowers, jewelry or a fancy dinner. Now I treasure connection, conversation, handholding, foot rubs, or a simple card. They are gifts that require nothing more than thought, and time. They are stress free,  and I love them. It helps to think I can share this knowledge with my kids…hopefully they’ll avoid much of the unnecessary stress I experienced.

How have you explained Valentine’s Day to your child? What is the best stress-free gift you have given or received?

Written to the One I Love

The class lists came home in my boys’ backpacks earlier this week, and we’ve been working on their Valentine’s Day cards ever since. I asked my sons what Valentine’s Day was all about. One son said, “Presents?” The other said, “No, it’s about love!” I continued my line of questioning. “So, why do you think we have a holiday about love?” One said, “I don’t know.” The other, “Because.” I love how simply they accept this holiday, and their willingness to show their classmates they care about them.

When I was eight years old, I had a crush on a boy named Greg. He went to another school and though I liked him, I rarely saw him. One day, a mutual friend found me and told me that Greg made something in school and wanted me to have it. She handed me a clay snake that Greg had made in his art class. I remember my heart racing, so happy to receive Greg’s gift. We were young, and our concept of love innocent. While his gesture was simple, it had a impact. He made me feel special.

I used to think love came in the form of notes, but Greg helped me realize it can take many forms. It can be in a card, or a song, a vulnerable moment, even in a clay snake. As my boys deliver their Valentine’s Day cards today, I’ll remind them that we can show others we care about them many different ways, and any day of the year.

How are you teaching your children about love? How are you encouraging them to show others they care?

 

What Makes Your Heart Sing?

Did you ever have the fantasy, as a child or young adult, that a secret admirer knew how incredible you were, somehow knew your favorite flowers and would pronounce their love for you bearing gifts on Valentine’s Day to the world?  Bear with me if you didn’t, because I had this Cinderella-type dream as a kid. I could visualize how it would happen, though couldn’t quite make out who my prince was. Regardless, the idea of some mystery boy being into me really made my heart sing, or, at least that’s what I thought back then.

As I grew older, I discovered Valentine’s Day might not be all it was made out to be. I stressed as a younger woman about having a valentine—not good for my self-esteem, the mystery prince was nowhere to be found, and as a mature adult the holiday seemed more confusing than satisfying.  Do people actually need to wait until Valentine’s Day to show or receive love from each other? That doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

My children love Valentine’s Day, not because they understand what all the fuss is about, but because they know there’s a good chance they’ll get some Valentine’s Day-themed goodies from Mom and Dad. Chocolates that come in a heart shaped box—cool!  We make a point to tell our children we love them everyday, and often multiple times a day. And when they get older we’ll talk to them about the holiday and ways to really show someone you care as you experience it, not saving it for February 14th.

I love getting flowers from my husband, but love connecting with him even more. Talking about things other than work or the kids, getting a foot rub, or him taking my hand unexpectedly makes me feel close to him and really loved. To think that my husband and I have the opportunity to teach our boys how to express their feelings for someone they care about when they feel it makes me smile.

In fact, it makes my heart sing.

What makes your heart sing?