This morning, my little boy James came and got into bed with me for a rare morning snuggle. Normally we're up and getting ready for school but today the teachers had an in-service day and he had the day off. It was delightful to get to snuggle with his warm little body and talk to him. The older he gets the less he wants to snuggle. The most snuggling I seem to get is on the rare occasions that he sleeps with me. I must say though, despite his doing the Macarena in his sleep, and his teeth grinding that there's nothing better than falling asleep with his little hand holding mine.
Anyway, while we were lying there we got to talking about the difference between like and love.
Whenever the topic of love comes up I stress to him that I love him unconditionally. As I child I never felt that kind of love from my maternal grandmother, who for all intents and purposes, raised me. Love always felt like it was attached to my being "good," cleaning up after myself, doing as I was told, etc. I felt that if I displeased my grandmother that she'd withhold her love. And don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking ill of her as I'm sure this was the way she was raised, but I swore that when I had children I would try to do things a little differently. My paternal grandmother always stressed her unconditional love but I didn't see her often enough for it to sink in. So ever since I had James I've purposely stressed that I love him unconditionally.
So this morning, once again I told James that no matter what he does that I'll always love him. I may not like something he's done, or a choice that he's making but that I'll always love him. I told him that there's nothing he could do that would make me stop loving him. I told him that you can love someone and not like them at the same time. He seemed to mull it over for a few minutes and then he turned to me with a puzzled expression and said:
"So Mom, you don't like it when I run down the stairs, but you still love me right?" I told him that he was exactly right. I love him despite not liking what he was doing, i.e., running down the stairs. I keep telling him he's going to slip and do a header into one of my flowered chairs. He smiled, gave me a kiss on the cheek and scampered off to get dressed for the day.
Does he get it? I'm not sure, but either way, I'm going to keep telling him. I feel strongly about this so I'll keep telling him. Someday, when he has children I'll love them unconditionally too.
Have you told your child that you love them unconditionally?