Monday, June 17, 2013

on why loving can be hard

I hope other mamas of littles can relate. You go to put your snuggle bug down for his nap. As you nurse or rock, you love on him, cherish him, and adore his little nose. Two seconds out the door and you cringe and groan at his cry. Why? Why not just patiently step back in and rub his back a little? Or whatever it takes, lovingly.

Or your toddler whines for the first hour of the morning because she doesn't want to get dressed and she's hungry. She pesters and you pester back. And the thought of loving her in that moment is just hard.

I've been inspired lately by a couple songs: Ingrid Michaelson's "Everybody" (Everybody, everybody wants to love. Everybody, everybody wants to be loved...) and Jason Mraz' "I'm Yours" (no I won't hesitate no more, no more.... it can not wait, I'm yours). I like to listen to them on my morning jogs as I near the house. They remind me that everybody wants to love and be loved. That means my kids too. And I think, "Can't I just let go of me and be their's? Be available?" When I listen to these songs, I feel so motivated to say "I'm yours" to the world, to each person I meet. To say, "How can I help you? What are your needs?" To give up my selfish wants and ways. To simply give... of myself, my time, my energy, and my love.

But as soon as I walk in the door, all my motivation deflates. Why? Why is it so. hard. ?

As I thought about this question, I realized a few things. For one, as mamas, we give love in hard ways. We wipe bottoms, we discipline, we cook, clean, fold laundry. These are not particularly warm and fuzzy feeling inducing things (though sometimes they are). And to the ones we are continually doing these things, the love we get in return is not in the same form. Or maybe no love is returned at all. Plain and simple: being a mama is loving our children through hard work.

A couple other things that occurred to me, is that loving is hard because I am simply selfish. I want to relax, I want to listen to my music - without whining in the background. I want to be obeyed so I don't have to remind or discipline. It's all selfishness. Another thing - I try to give this agape - never ending, unconditional love - by my own strength. And that is never going to happen. That love can only channel through me from God, if I ask Him and let Him.

I feel that loving our children can be a confusing balancing act. On one hand, loving them can be something like giving them a treat or letting a chore slide, but it quickly can turn into spoiling them. Something that may feel like "sacrificial love" ("I'll pick up your toys tonight") can easily become getting walked on. It's hard to find the line between meeting one's personal needs (time to read, relax, reflect) and taking too much time or being selfish about it.

These are all hard things. Loving is hard. It's a balance act - one I can't do alone. And while I don't have the answers, I have a few practical ways I want to work on this. They are nothing new, just what I felt compelled to apply to this particular weight on my heart.

Three Ways to Work on Loving

1. Pray for love every day. At the beginning of the day and throughout, especially in difficult moments.

2. Pray for everyone. This is the easiest way to love them.

3. Look for little things to do for others. Be open to doing them. In time, this will get easier.

How is loving hard for you? Have you overcome some of these difficulties? How?

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