Today as we were rushing out for kids’ swimming lesson, my son’s hand came in the door. Not realizing what had opened, I closed the door on his hands again, even harder. And then I saw his face. He wanted to scream but could not, he was just staring at me, unable to speak, shocked and tears going down his face, holding his little pudgy fingers in his hand.
I fell down on the floor and rubbed his hand, did what every parent would do in such a situation. He stared at me as I tried to make him feel better. When he was finally able to speak, with tears still running down his face, he said:
“It’s ok mama, don’t worry.”
Time and time again I’m reminded of how much we are loved by our children and how much we take them for granted. The social narrative emphasizes on the love parents, especially mothers have for their children. The ‘sacrifices’ we make, the sleepless nights and the complexities of life. Parents dictate the one-sided narrative because children have no voice.
Never in my life did I feel as complete, as beautiful and as loved as after I became a mother. It is an exquisite, luxurious feeling to have – the bond we share, the need they have of us, and their desire for the love we are so willing to give. They express in a million little ways like in the warm hugs we get when we get home from work, it is in their need to please and make us happy, it is in the excitement they show when we make a surprise visit to their school, it is in the trust they show towards our judgment and decisions.
Many warn me of teenage years and how difficult things would get for me. Many friends have told me that I just got lucky and had good kids. Some tell me I love them too much. I do not doubt their wisdom but it is not about me, it is about them. We talk about the parents too much. What they do, what they go through, the decisions they make. Let us talk about the love we get in return. We chose to have these kids but they didn’t choose to be born, least of all, as our children. Us, with our own weaknesses, quirks and failings.
There are so many examples of their love, e.g. when we yell at them, or punish them, or turn off TV time, or take away their candy, they still love us. No matter how angry they get, they will return to us for comfort. Our children, little as they are, have hearts that forgive us for decisions they do not agree with and do not understand. The love they show when they have to make the mammoth decision to choose between the two candies they want to buy and are allowed only one, when we cut their hair the way we want it cut, when we tell them they have to finish their food or else they won’t get any chocolate, when we tell them to go to bed when they don’t want to. They comply because they trust us. We get to force our will, even if it is for their own good, but we force our will and they comply even when they do not understand. And they love us despite it. Every single day.
When I travel for work I am asked who manages my kids (stupid question?), do I feel guilty? (another stupid question – I don’t by the way), or do they miss me? (probably but their dad keeps them busy and happy). The problem is I miss my children, I miss their warmth, their love, their hugs and kisses and the sense of purpose they give to my life. I miss their endless admiration which is an addiction in itself. They have given me so much in their few years of existence that I become a mere shadow of a person without their constant presence in my life.
In short, not much is written about this other side of the love that parents get. Perhaps this should change. Perhaps we should give voice to the little ones for they give us so much more.