My daughter recently sprung on me a question that was difficult to answer. In part because I’m a very suspicious person and was wondering where the question came from and how my answer would be used against me but also because I haven’t really thought about it. She asked, “What is your definition of love? What is the first thing that you think of when you hear the word?”
Like I said, my first thought was not how to answer the question but why was she asking it. Does she think she’s in love? What recent conversations would have her questioning my ability to love? Is she not feeling loved? Am I a horrible mother? Then came: If I answer this wrong will she forever base her definition of love off of mine and have messed up relationships from this point forward? How can my answer be used against me later during some very messed up teenage/parent argument? If you haven’t noticed yet I tend to overthink things a bit.
After a very long pause on my end she says, “Mom you’re making this harder than it is. Just tell me the first thing that you think of.”
Here is the answer that she got.
I think of you and your brother and you dad. With your dad, I’ve always liked your dad, but the love I feel for him has grown and changed a bit over time. It started exciting and new and has evolved into comfort. He’s like a worn pair of jeans that I go to when I need to feel good. He’s my constant and my contentment. With you kids it was an instant ache in my chest from the first time I heard your hearts beat. Love for you guys is so powerful that it hurts and is always there every time I look at you. It is also something that you won’t experience until you have children yourself. The love I feel for you and your brother is something that can never go away. No action on your parts will ever make me love you less. This is hard because when you do things that I don’t like my reaction may make it seem like I don’t love you. Know from now on that even when it doesn’t seem like it, my every action is done with love for you.
The look on her face after hearing my explanation of my love for her confirmed my fear that she doubted my love for her. We say the words every day, multiple times a day, but do we really show it? I’ll have to make a point to show it more often.
Some of the things that I would like to add to our conversation; Love is different than like. Love doesn’t go away even after you are hurt. When you like a person you can love moments with them but the love doesn’t penetrate through the whole relationship. People you like can leave your life, and you still have feelings that hang on certain moments with them, but you don’t really love the person. When someone you love leaves your life that love stays with you forever, and with that love that person is always there.
When you love someone let them know, not just in words but also with your actions, never just assume that they can feel the pressure squeezing your heart every time you look at them.