Today I've chosen to join up with Sarah at Emerging Mummy and many other amazing people to write about one of my Practices of Parenting - something I do to help me enjoy parenting every day, right now. If you're into reading about parenting then click on the link above and read more of the amazing things people have to share.
This is dear to my heart, what I write to you today. These three words:
I love you
I don't claim to be the "perfect" parent. I don't claim to know a whole lot. I am learning as I go, as we all do. But I know that when I became a parent I had something I held dear to me, a vow inside my heart. It started just as the knowledge that I was growing something inside me, a combination of me and my husband, something that would become a real, live, person - so hard to imagine during those first 9 months. No child of mine will ever, ever, question my love for them.
So I say it, all the time. "I love you". Every day. Quite a few times a day.
Those three words seem to hold a fair amount of controversy for some people. The theory that somehow a child or person can be "Spoilt" from too much love just doesn't ring true with me. The idea that somehow it can get a bit old, or tired, to hear "I love you" too much doesn't stick either - I would much, much rather be told it too much, and say it too much, than to spend each day longing to hear those words, or not knowing how to get them out. That is sort of my background. An awkward feeling hearing "I love you", and an awkwardness in saying it. With my own children, I refuse to be awkward. From minute one, from moment one, from the womb onwards - through their childhoods, embarrassing teens, at their 21st speeches, weddings, births of their children - I will keep saying it. I love you. I'm proud of you. You are so, so special to me.
And I don't just reserve it for my kids. Some of my friends probably think I'm a bit weird, because I do tend to say I love you in texts, emails, conversations, fairly regularly. I don't say it lightly. I don't say it out of habit. I don't say it to just anybody. But I do make a choice daily to not be ashamed to speak out Love. I believe it makes a huge difference.
When my best friend's sister died eight years ago, I drove up with my future husband to the family home in Northland. And when I got out of the car, and my friend ran down the driveway, and I dropped my bags and ran to her - we just clung onto each other and all I can remember saying is "I love you, I love you, I love you, I'm so sorry, I love you" - and her saying it back, repeating it back to me. Since then, I speak out love. I won't wait for a tragedy. I won't wait for a wake-up call. I will continue to say it. So, if I say it to you - don't feel awkward. It's not romantic. It's not wishy washy. It's not to pressure you into a deeper friendship. It's just because you matter to me, and love matters to me, and, as Gandhi says, I want to "be the change you wish to see in the world". That's the change I wish to see.
Love. Love. Love.
"Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that." (Ephesians 5:2, The Message)