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Sunday, February 22, 2015

LOVE


It’s been so long since I have written. Life continues to move forward at a dizzying pace and I long to sit down and pour out my soul and record our family’s experiences, but it just doesn’t happen. Tonight though my heart feels ready to burst and I know I must write.

I have often wondered what response I would give if I had to state in one word what I have learned most from motherhood—from my children. Would it be patience? Certainly I have had to exhibit large amounts at times and practice this virtue on a regular basis. Maybe it would be humility. Motherhood has most definitely humbled me time and time again as I have searched for answers and wisdom far beyond my own in an effort to teach my children important values and truths. Faith is another word I have had to become well acquainted with as a mother—faith things would turn out all right, faith I was not alone in this important endeavor, faith I could keep going. The faith of children has always been somewhat mind-boggling to me, and I have most definitely been awed by my own children’s faith at times when my own was wavering. Perhaps the word would be exhaustion, for I have never been more tired or more drained, from staying up with sleepless newborns to working tireless hours to being sleepless myself due to concern for one of my children.

Today I realized that none of these words could even come close to the one thing I have learned most from this journey of mothering my five children. Today I realized what my one-word response—without hesitation—would be. The thing my children have taught me most is this:

LOVE.

From the moment my first baby was placed in my arms to right now, today, I have never loved so deeply or been loved so much. It’s difficult to even write about the love I have experienced as a mother because the words sound so cliché and lack the power to convey what I really feel, but I am going to attempt it anyway because I want my children to know—really know—what a gift they are to me and how deeply I truly LOVE them.

The thing about the love that exists in a family is that it is so unique, so binding and so incredibly powerful that it transcends every other emotion—fear, anger, disappointment, envy, and so on. Love truly produces miracles; I’ve experienced it time and time again. Love softens hearts, breaks down barriers and leaves understanding in its wake.

I’ve tried to pinpoint what it is I love most about my children because truly they bring me so much joy. Yes, they quarrel and exhibit unkindness on a regular basis; yes, they are disobedient and unruly at times; yes they make the same dumb mistakes over and over again. But they are mine. And they are amazing. And they have given me one of the greatest gifts in my life—the gift of love.

The thing about the love a mother experiences for her child is that it’s truly unconditional. To me, that is a miracle. Of course it’s easy to love my children when they are making good choices and being obedient and causing those around them to feel happy. But what I have come to appreciate even more is the deep love I feel for my child when he/she actually has feet planted on the wrong path. I think when I was a young and naïve mother (now I’m an older naïve mother), I was quite devastated when my children were naughty, especially when they seemed to enjoy it! My initial reaction was to show my disdain and censure them. What I am learning instead is that exhibiting love—sincere, heartfelt love—goes so much further. Not only does my child’s heart soften, making him/her more willing to be taught and to repent, but it bonds us together in unspeakable ways.

I have truly come to appreciate the love I feel from my five children. They hug me and kiss me and offer words of affection to me; but even more than all of this, they trust me and they forgive me (time and time again) and they continue to come to me, even when I have offended them. They want me near them. They want my time and my attention. They want my affection and my care. They even want my words of advice at times J. All of this, even though I am so weak and so inadequate as their mother. That is incredible to me! I have never felt so loved as since I married the man of my dreams and we started a family.

And then there is the love I feel for each one of these children I have been blessed with. They are so very individual, so very different from each other (that never ceases to amaze me!) and yet I love each of them immeasurably. I marvel at their strengths and abilities and I appreciate their struggles and weaknesses, knowing that with weakness comes the opportunity to grow. I love them when they are kind and respectful. I love them when they are accomplishing great things. I love them when they are giving of their time and energy to serve others. And I love them when they are failing and living far below their potential as sons and daughters of God; in fact, I believe it is in these moments my love for them grows the most because I come to appreciate all they are up against and marvel at their strength and desire for goodness. I understand the difficulty of this journey they are on and respect so very much their courage to sojourn it.

So the question I am left with is this: how do I instill in each child how unequivocally and powerfully I love them? How can I help them understand the love I feel for them when they accomplish great things? How do I help them know the love I have for them when they brighten my day with their beautiful smiles, their quirky senses of humor and the light that shines in their eyes? How can I tell them adequately how much I love them when they reach outside of themselves to lift others? How do I express to them how much I love them when they grow another inch or master a new skill or grow in character and integrity? How do I ever help them understand that sometimes the love I feel for them is so great and so full, I feel I might actually burst?

Most certainly I do it with constant words of affection—everyone needs to hear they are loved. I also must hug them regularly, kiss them goodbye and goodnight and hold them close to me when they’ve had a particularly bad day and just need to feel safe and warm in someone’s embrace for a moment. I believe it takes forgiveness to really love completely. My children must know I will forgive them and that I am a strong believer in fresh starts. More than anything, however, I feel I can show my love most generously by giving each of them my time. Time is the hardest thing to give it seems, but oh, how they each need it! They need to know they are more important than my other endeavors and they need to know I will be here for them—with my eyes, my mind, my heart and especially my time. I feel them hunger for it, and it is what I must give.

How grateful I am for the amazing gift of love I have for/from my children! They have loved me at some of my most unlovable moments. They have laughed with me, cried with me and prayed with and for me. They have never given up on me. I imagine their futures and know hard days are ahead. I know they will stumble and fall at times and make heartbreaking choices, but that will not change my love for them. In those moments, I pray with all my heart, I will love them better and love them more, not for their lack of judgment and righteous decision-making, but for their ability and desire to get back up and keep trying. Everyone needs love at those times.


My earnest prayer is that each one of my children—Hallee, Nate, Regyn, Boston and Berkley—will know unequivocally that their mother, this imperfect, undeserving mess of a woman at times—loves them with all her heart and soul. And that will never change! 


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