Lessons in Parenthood: Week 5
I’ve always hated those bumper stickers, banners, posts, pictures, captions, which read something along the line of, “My kid is better than yours” or even worse, “My boyfriend/husband is better than yours.” I can’t help but think, “Do you really want that?” Do you really want me and everyone else to think thatwhat you have is better than what we have? Isn’t that bad for you? What if then I try to make your person like me more than they like you? It may sound absurdly literal, but it seems like a perfectly logical response to me. Even if we don’t look at it from that angle, but from another, it sounds catty and petty.
It’s the best for all of us if we think,
“I have the best child in the whole world… and that’s exactly how everyone should feel about their child.”
It goes the same for spouses. The overwhelming love I have towards my husband and child is something I truly desire for every person on the planet. I hope every parent feels that towards their child. Everyone who doesn’t feel that way, I hope finds inspiration and answers to reach that love. For myself, I hope to find greater teachers who will show me how to enrich and grow that love.
At least once a day I catch myself watching Olivia and thinking about how marvelous, wonderful, and yes, even perfect she is. It’s like being in love. In a way it is being in love. Just a different kind of love than the one which led us to our “I do.”
In the English language, we’re really deprived of variation of the word “love.” Love has so many, many meanings and forms and shapes and characteristics and yet we have only “love” to describe all of them. In order to give variety to this word we have tone, emotion, and body language to make up for nonexistent words. Living in Slovenia, learning another language, you start to see things in new ways.
Slovene has two expressions for love. I would say, “Rada te imam,” which translates into something like, “I like you,” but is used like we casually use love when we say, “I love coffee,” or “I love my dog.” I call it the casual love. This is also the expression you would use to tell your kids that you love them. Then there is, “Ljubim te,” and this is “I love you” in the most intimate way expressible in their language. You only ever say this to your spouse. The funny thing is, culturally, Slovenians barely even say, “I love you,” to their spouses in the casual form. This intimate form is so personal it’s rarely used. And maybe Slovenians aren’t as lovey dovey as us Americans in their speech.
Learning these small differences opened my mind to a greater capacity for expression of love. Love isn’t just one thing, it’s many things and feelings. Most of them I don’t have words for, but that’s OK. I just need to make the effort to express them to my child. When I think she’s wonderful, I need to tell her so. When I feel love towards her, I should tell her that, either in words or with a gift or a hug. I used to think that it wasn’t necessary to tell her 25 times a day that I love her so much, but then I took a minute to consider the alternative.
What if I don’t tell her I love her? What if I would just let all that love go by over the years without fully expressing it? Let’s suppose that she grows up her thoughts are, “Well, I know my parents cared for me and I’m sure they love me, but I never really felt loved.” Until I know her specific love language, I need to show her love in every way. I don’t want her to simply know she is loved, I want her to feel she is loved.
The funny thing is, the more I express my love to her, the more I love her. Love is interesting in that way. The more you give it, the more you feel it. If I hold back my love, inevitably its abundance diminishes. Love is just active that way, I guess.