My kids can be A LOT. I’ve actually been asking other parents recently about strong willed children, because if that’s a real thing, I’ve definitely got some. I have really, deeply struggled in my identity as a mom. And in countless moments, I have really struggled in my ability to connect and be present in the ways I always hope to be present with my kids.
Tonight, as I had a few minutes of alone time in the car, I was thinking about the way the days are woven together to form the connected tapestries of our lives, and I couldn’t help but wonder… whether my kids FEEL loved.
I remember early in our marriage, someone gave us the advice that it’s good to check in on whether your spouse FEELS loved sometimes, it’s a good point of communication to measure whether your intentions are translating and being received.
I have so many moments where I am internally angry at my kids. So many moments where I am externally angry with my kids. And so, so many moments where I am so filled with love that I think I might just burst.
I wondered if they have ever felt that way – so filled up with love they think they might burst.
I came home, I walked up the stairs toward their room. I heard their whispers and hushed giggles, and found them snuggled and reading together.
I flopped down on my tummy on the bed with them, and they seemed glad to see me. But there’s also this often present tension of uncertainty. Like, maybe, they live on eggshells.
And I just asked if they’ve ever felt that bursting with love sort of feeling. And they both said they did and they started sharing moments they remembered feeling that way. Laughing together during a game of Apples to Apples recently, a moment on a parent-kid date, memories from a hike, and other moments.
I told them why I asked these questions – first, that I feel that way about them often, but that I wasn’t sure whether they knew just how much I love them. And second, that I want us to have so many more moments that are so full of love that we all feel like our world can’t contain it and it spills out of us. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.
Finally, I asked them if there was anything I could do to help fill them up with love in that moment.
“Could you, just, smile at me?”my 7 year old asked, timidly.
I smiled my most genuine smile from deep down in my crumbling heart, and before the smile even reached its breadth, he said, “That one. That one, exactly.”
My 9 year old, never one to miss an opportunity, said, “you could let me have a sleepover in your bed!” “I can’t, not tonight with the baby still waking to nurse. Is there a second best?” I asked her.
“Could you just hold me for a while?”
They both climbed in my lap and we all kissed and kissed and kissed each others heads and cheeks, and they were giggling and tears were streaming down my face.
This night was almost like nearly every other night since I became a mother – where I’m exhausted and agitated and completely spent, and where I sit with ringing ears in the silence after they’ve gone to bed, and I ache so profoundly to connect with them better, tomorrow.
I almost missed this.
So, I dare you to ask your kids about those moments. Maybe you’ve already done that. Maybe you already know. Or maybe, like me, you were coming up empty yet again, and you could use a chance to fill all the way up with love.