Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is This Love?

Her daddy has left her napping in the middle of our bed, he has to leave for a meeting and I’ve just returned home so I relish in the thought of climbing up next to her sleeping form.

I mold my body around hers like a mama cat. I breathe in her, I close my eyes and smile at this stolen moment really only shared between me and myself.

She wakes a few minutes later, asking where daddy is. I assure her that he’ll be home in time for dinner and her eyelids flutter back to a half awake state for a few more minutes until she wakes up and turns around to stare at me.

“Hi sweet pea,” I say.

“Hi,” she repeats.

“I missed you,” I say.

“I missed you,” she repeats.

“I love you,” I tell her.

“I love you,” she repeats.

Sometimes I wonder when our children actually “love” us in return. Not to diminish their obvious affections and attachments to us, but do they really “love” in the true understanding of the word? To them, we are the caretakers, the adults in their lives who are always there to feed them, clothe them and keep them warm. We’ve always been there, they don’t know any different. But when do they feel that feeling described as “love”?

I loved all of my kids at the mere thought of them, long before they were born. This feeling grew as they did during pregnancies and became tangible when they were delivered and I could hold them myself. There was never a time I can remember not feeling this way and it occurred to me as Katie and I lay and had our little conversation that it might not be the same for her.

True, I am the person she favors above all others (and her Daddy gets his fair share of this too), but does that mean that she “loves” me, or has just been conditioned to respond to me in the way that I teach her by example. Do children learn “love” or is it a feeling that grows as they develop?

At their age, the boys can describe what “love” is and I believe that they’ve formed ideas in their heads of who is deserving of their affections and who is not. Their family definitely falls into this category; the milkman does not (although my husband teases me that maybe he should). But when did this transition from an automatic response to those unsolicited hugs, kisses and “I love you Mommy” happen? I can’t remember.

We were having brunch last weekend. After dishing out the food and drink for Brett and the kids, I finally sat down between Katie and McRae.

“Mommy, here’s a pancake for you,” she said as she plopped one on my plate.

It may not be a big relevation. It may not be the discovery of another planet or the proof that life extends beyond death, but it was huge in our house, in my heart.

Because you just don’t give pancakes to anyone.


mom said...

Maybe at such an early age, the "love language" is just that. Offering a little gift, sharing time & snuggles, feeling safe enough to close her eyes when you're around
Wait a minute. That is how I feel, too!

Nice post.

Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

That is such an interesting and beautiful post. I never thought about when they truly "love" us, rather than just repeat the words I love you. But the pancake is a clear sign, I would say. Very moving post.


Lisa said...

Awww. That is such a beautiful post...

jen said...

pancakes so equate love.

what a lovely little story. and two beautiful girls.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I hung on every word. See you soon, UJ

sweatpantsmom said...

What a beautiful post. My kids are getting older, to the age where I have to whine and beg to get a pancake.

But I know they still love me.

Pendullum said...

And I think through example we teach them what love truly is... Andfora pacaketobe placed on your plate???
You have done a great job...
They know what love and giving and sharing is all about!

Mamacita Tina said...

I new my son loved me, when he gave me his favorite truck to play with.

Lovely post, a wonderful idea to think about.

Mamacita Tina said...

Sorry, knew, not new. What can I say, look at the time.

LindaJ said...

I'd share my pancake with you. Just remeber love comes in many different ways and people need to be shown how to love. Katie has a good teacher.


mk said...

That post really touched me and made me thing of my girl. She isn;t old enough to tell me she loves me, but I completely undertsnad that love even before they are outside of us and we can hold them. It makes me ponder your thoughts and how their minds work. I do know that when her face lights up when she sees me is amazing- overwhelming! Fills me up. Thank you so much for sharing your private moment.

Christina_the_wench said...

That photo is adorable. What more can I say?

Becky said...

aw this was a nice post. and ive never thought about that but thats true. DO they know what love is at so young"? hannah tells me she loves me but i doubt she really grasps what love is. good thought

Jill said...

Aww, that's lovely. It reminds my of that old Charlie Brown "Love Is" book. Your entry could be "Love is . . . .sharing pancakes."