Love and Affection

I don’t believe that every mother loves their child or children. It’s a fact that many people don’t like to think about, yet sensationalize when stories of women leaving their children for partners, killing their children while suffering from post-partum depression, or simply leaving, happens. And that doesn’t even take into account cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on children.

This post isn’t about tragic realities. Have you ever been in love with another person? And you know how you walk around, smugly thinking, “No one could possibly be as in love with another human being as I am with this person?” Well, you’re wrong. You’re also right. It’s only your thoughts and experiences and there are infinite more combinations and realities.

The same holds true for children. Someone can look at a parent yelling at their kid on the playground and think, “Wow, they clearly don’t love their child as much as I love mine.” And maybe they’re right. Or maybe the kid is being a total snot and the parent is running late to pick up a sibling and she works two jobs. The answer tends to be simple and not so simple.

Giving birth to Miss Red and seeing her for the first time rearranged every atom in my entire being. It was powerful, scary, challenging and everything and nothing of what I thought it would be. I remember my first trimester of pregnancy, around week 15, something in me clicked, and I started loving the little creature in me. I shared that with my BFF and she was so excited. I started talking to the growing person inside me in my head, and imagined a warm, amber-colored light always shining inside. While taking prenatal yoga, in each pose I would chant in my head, “I am Divine. I am Divine.”

I loved Miss Red immediately. Absolutely. After 44 hours of labor and delivery, I would have done it again in a heartbeat. And that love has only grown. It hasn’t stopped yet and I know it won’t. I just do.

What surprises me about being a parent is that she loves me. It’s not that I don’t feel worthy of love; that’s not it at all; it’s that I’ve created a bond with someone based on circumstance. In teenager or adult love, you choose whom you love. With this, she came to us. She jumps into my arms after I put on her pjs, wrapping her arms around my neck, giving me a big squeeze, “Mama, I yuv you so much!” Really? Me? But I get to be your mama.

"Mama, I pick you a flower."

I will never take this love for granted, in a way that I can take CH’s love of me for granted. I think this is typical of people who have been together for nearly 11 years – there is a true devotion and deep love for one another, and even though we express our love for one another daily, we’re not jumping into one another’s arms or run toward one another in excitement when we come home. Having Miss Red is a reminder that there are such different forms of love, such different ways to share emotion.

My parents separated when I was little and soon after started dating other people. This gave me great anxiety, and I remember repeatedly asking my mother, “do you love me more?” And she would say, “there are different kinds of love.” I didn’t get that then, but can understand now. I don’t feel that way, but I understand. And who knows if she would give the same answer today. While I always knew that my parents loved me, and showed me great affection, I didn’t always have as much attention as I needed, but I also have a tendency to pull inward. But then there are kids who have a lot of attention from their parents, but not the love or affection. Or love and attention but not affection.

My hope for Miss Red? That she always, always knows that her mama loves her, cares about her, and has arms open for her whenever she’s ready to jump.

– MD

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