One of our kids looked at me tonight, after fighting sleep for two hours and wreaking havoc on their room, and asked, “will you still love me sometimes?” It never ceases to amaze me that even in the moment of greatest frustration, when it seems like they’ll never listen and never grow and they may actually be more stubborn than their stubborn parents (we so are), they can stop my heart in a second and suck all of the air out of the room.
How can this child who I adore with every fiber of my being feel unloved or even uncertain? Even for a heartbeat? We say it so many times a day; we are so affectionate with each other that babysitters comment on it; we make sure we have breakfast and dinner together as a family, and talk about taking care of each other and listening to our feelings. How can we do everything right and have it go wrong?
I remember wondering sometimes as a kid if I’d push my parents too far, sensing their exasperation. (I hadn’t. I don’t think!) I looked deep into my child’s eyes and explained that our love is forever and endures every single second. We then talked about how sometimes we don’t like the choices they make, but it never changes our love. Back rubs, kisses, hugs, promises. Said child responds, “I love you the best, even when I’m mad.” (An improvement? I’ll take it.) Later, I head back to my room, my heart breaking as all I want to do is scoop up all of our babes and frantically proclaim my adoration and kiss every warm cheek, eyes droopy with sleep.
In the morning, we’ll take a quiet moment to reinforce how epic our love really is. We’ll triple check that this child and all the rest know how profound our relationship is, and reiterate that we’re theirs for all of time. And that we still don’t like wet toilet paper all over the bathtub and screaming laughter after bedtime. We’ll snuggle and comfort each other, and I’ll watch the bigs skip happily out the door with Dave like my heart isn’t lying in smithereens at their feet. And bizarrely, I’ll feel like a success. Because I can handle the shards; they shouldn’t have to.
It’s a big week at our house. Elise has her last day Monday, and Marion joins the family Friday, on Elise’s birthday. The kids can feel something’s shifting, and are trying to wrap their brains (and hearts) around the changing in the guard all mashed up with the Easter bunny and birthday cake. Sassy’s back too, which always sends them careening into riot. School starts again in the morning, and spring is bolting into town. Who doesn’t feel a little high-spirited when the green grass pokes out again?! I suspect we’ll all need some extra hugs and love this week, as our constellations shift.
New day, clean slate. It’s what we tell the kids after a rough day. We pull it together, get some sleep, and start fresh in the morning. Patience, love, open communication, and time together – that can soothe the most disturbed mind. And then we’ll get to the root of the “love” worry, because these kids are going to be loved until their eyes roll and they mock us later.