There’s nothing like the feeling of a child wrapping his or her arms around your neck (waist, leg, arm, etc.), squeezing as if life depends on the attachment, and proclaiming, “Mommy, I love you!” Sometimes those declarations come mid-sentence while a child is putting together a puzzle, taking a bath, or singing a song. It’s as if the thought is constantly running through the child’s mind and comes up for air every now and then, forcing its way out through words. Of course, we moms know that’s not really the case, because within seconds of “Mommy, I love you!” comes “You’re not my best friend anymore!” or “I don’t love you anymore, Mommy!” or “You’re not nice to me!” Feelings come and feelings go, and a child usually lets you know exactly what each feeling is!
But love isn’t just a temporary feeling. Our children don’t just love us when they wrap themselves around us and declare it. They don’t only love us when we help them through a tough circumstance as they get older. They can’t completely understand our constant, unconditional love for them, but theirs is a taste of the same. Their love isn’t conditional on the situation, even though it might seem that way. They love us even when times are tough, even when they can’t see or express it.
I’m not saying they don’t struggle with their love for us, but I think it’s more about general struggles with life and themselves. We get caught up in what they think or feel about us, but they’re often just caught up in figuring out how to grow up, what to do with whatever is facing them today. They say and do things that warm our hearts or stab our hearts, and sometimes they know what they’re doing. Other times, they don’t. They’re reacting. We show them love in return, and when the moment is right, we teach what we think they can accept.
We’re not just mombarded by our children’s love, but we’re mombarded by our own love for them. It overwhelms us at times. Again, I’m not just talking about those warm, fuzzy feelings. I’m talking about the commitment we have to them, and all the stuff that comes with motherhood. We’re mombarded with the pain we feel when they’re hurting. We feel that pain because of our love for them. We’re mombarded with the sadness of separation, whether it’s physical or emotional. We don’t like that distance. (Okay, well, sometimes we’re a bit relieved by it, to be honest, but we feel that gap because of our love for them.)
We love our children because God first loved us. It’s the only way we know what love is and how to love our kids and others. His love is the only way they know how to love, too. Many people don’t acknowledge God’s love and may not admit to him being the source of love, but we know love has to come from somewhere other than us. We aren’t deep enough to have the reserves of love that carry us through some really difficult times. Our commitment to our children is more than we can create on our own.
The best thing about being mombarded by love is being on the receiving end of God’s love. When we accept what He offers, it’s an even greater joy to pass it on. It’s an added blessing to receive it through someone else. Whether the young child whispers “I love you” or an older child closes a phone conversation with the reminder, you get to savor it as one of the greatest gifts God will give.