I thought I was a good person until I brought a human into the world. The truth is, I had been able to please myself a large portion of the time, and hadn’t been given many opportunities for my patience to be tested.
And then I got pregnant.
Kids, eh?! They should come with a warning label: “I’m cute, but don’t be deceived. I will show you more about joy, love and pain than anyone you’ve ever known.”
Here are 7 life-changing lessons my baby has taught me about love
Love is all talk and ALL action
It’s easy to tell our kids we love them. In practice though, love can be a lot harder to show. Motherhood has taught me that love is so much more than the hourly cuddles and kisses I smother my son with.
Love is when I pick him up for the 184,000th time while trying to make dinner. It’s reading him his favourite book til I’m mumbling the words in my dreams. It’s being there for him even when he’s cranky. It’s seeing past his tantrums (even in public, and yes, even when they’re embarrassing!) and meeting the desperate needs of the child beneath. It’s refusing to shame him for his still-developing ability to moderate his emotional outbursts.
Love ain’t always Insta-glamorous
Contrary to the soft-focused photos of good-looking children in carefully picked boutique bamboo playsuits, frolicking in sun-kissed fields, love isn’t always photo-worthy.
In fact, in my experience, love is usually marked by food and mud smeared on white clothes, ragged mum buns, Vegemite grins and carpets covered in crumbs and toy cars.
Love makes us aware of our extreme vulnerability
To be a parent is both a joy and (at times) an overwhelmingly scary responsibility. From the first scratch or bump on the head, you suddenly realise that it’s your responsibility to care for and keep alive this fragile, incapable little human.
They learn in time, but for now, you’re feeling vulnerable and just want to wrap them in cotton wool. Are they too hot? Are they too cold? Am I loving them too much? Is that smothering them? It’s okay to question and feel vulnerable. That means your decisions are considered and all you want is the best for THEM. That’s love.
Love doesn’t need restraint
When a child is first born, you’re dealing with someone who’s new to this whole ‘life’ thing. There is no agenda, no ‘should’s, no expectations in their mind. They don’t second-guess their instincts. They just know that the warmth of you as their parent is what they can trust and love.
Your baby doesn’t abide by rules, and equally, they don’t understand yours. And that ignorance of social norms and acceptable public affection is so refreshing. Embrace their unbridled enthusiasm and weirdness, for in a few years it will no doubt be replaced by the angst and awkwardness of the classic teenager.
Love hurts sometimes a heck of a lot
Hurting yourself is painful. But seeing the child you dearly love be hurt, physically or emotionally is, by far, the most excruciating pain we experience.
Motherhood also makes us painfully aware of our failings, our short tempers and just how proud we are. And seeing ourselves in this light hurts deeply. Raising children can take us right back to the emotions of our childhood, and the hurtful childhood memories are often the most vivid.
So, be prepared for a fair bit of hurt mixed in with your love. It’s kind of a package deal.
Love helps us grow
We often focus on how the child is growing (“look how big he’s getting, I can’t believe he can count to 10 now!”) but we adults are seldom aware of how much WE are growing too.
Parenthood is the ultimate cross between boot camp and a self-improvement conference (with a bit of torture-style sleep deprivation thrown in on the side!)
Love is the thread which keeps us sane
The hormone oxytocin, released during pregnancy and immediately after a mother gives birth, plays a big part in human survival. It basically ensures the mother doesn’t abandon her child, but rather cares for it and nurtures it to maturity.
The stark reality is that if we didn’t feel a strong bond of affection and intense love towards our kids, we’d be tempted to pack up and leave them almost every day. But those sweet kisses, those whispered “yuv yous”, those chubby hands that grip our fingers are the surest and most scientific reason we pursue parenthood. They are our tenuous grip on sanity when everything else is completely and utterly ridiculous. And that’s love.
What lessons have you learned about love from your kids? Share with us on Facebook!