Like, don't get me wrong. I love all the time: I love my husband, I love my daughters, I love my family and friends and life itself. I love loving, and it's a feeling that is coursing through me at any given moment of my day.
I'm just so stinkin' bad at expressing it.
I've shared this before, my Love Language Dilemma, and while it is something I'm acutely aware of (and avidly working on), it's an uphill battle for me. Rather, it's not that I struggle to express love. I just struggle to express love in a way that is often perceived by the recipient.
Many people love to be hugged. Many people enjoy hearing the verbalized form of I Love You. And many people enjoy the mushy gushy affectionate expression of romance.
I'm not one of those people.
Yet, I love on people all the time. I try to write my feelings, maybe in a thoughtful text or an email - sometimes even a handwritten card! I try to remember birthdays or favorite things of my favorite people. I try to go out of my way to help a friend in need or extend an encouraging word. In this way, I feel I show my love.
But sometimes people need more. They need me to give the hug. To say the words. And as much as I work on it, it often makes me feel uncomfortable. My love is so focused on DOING. It doesn't embrace the BEING of love.
And I've realized how much this impacts my family, and it's part of the reason I try to stay aware and work on expressing myself in different ways. My husband needs me to hold his hand, to stop and hug him, to look him in the eye and say, "I love you. You are my love." Those actions don't come naturally to me, even if I can create them perfectly in my head or on a piece of paper. It's more comfortable for me to make his favorite meal, to keep the house clean so we can enjoy and relax, to fill his car up with gas so he doesn't have to first thing in the morning.
But he needs more.
And so do my girls. My girls need the hugs and kisses, the snuggles and giggles, the affirmative words that I am PROUD that they are GREAT and that nothing could surpass MY LOVE for them. So I make a point to do these things, even if they don't come automatically or naturally to me. I tell them every day I love them. I hug them whenever they'll let me. I make sure before they fall asleep I tell them all the ways they've made me proud and every way they are beautiful.
Expressing my love in these ways, in uncomfortable ways, is good. You know why? Because it changes me. When I really process what holds me back from loving passionately and outwardly, it's me. I hold myself back. And I believe, truly believe, it's because I struggle to love myself. That there are parts of me that are ugly and try to forget. That there are ways I think and feel and treat others that I despise myself for. I hold back because I'm reminded of all the ways I fail my girls daily, my husband regularly. I don't love the way I should because maybe, deep down, I wonder if I haven't earned it.
Does this ring true for anyone?
If so, can I tell you something?
Something really important?
Those are lies.
Boldfaced lies. Lies we tell ourselves, lies our society and culture make us believe. Lies that are confirmed on Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook, where we can peruse all the perfect mothers, and their perfect crafts, and their perfect lives, and their perfect ways of loving. But these are not realities. No, every life is imperfect. Every life involves failure.
And every life, every life, deserves love whether it is earned or not.
Once you begin to love yourself, to embrace all your bumps and imperfections, you'll realize how deep and wide your ability to love goes. You are freed to love on others without fear or discomfort. And the loving mother, partner, friend, daughter you've always wanted to be is suddenly real.
Because Real Moms become real over time.
And it begins with loving yourself.
On the 14th of every month, I’ll be revealing the truth about motherhood with 12 other writers. Follow the hashtag #NakedMoms to read our stories. Here all the posts from Februrary:
by Stephanie at When Crazy Meets Exhaustion
by Heather at Diary of A First Time Mom
by Laila at Only Laila
by Joyce at Mommy Talk Show
by Thien-Kim at I’m Not The Nanny
by Steph at Confessions of A Stay At Home Mom
by Vanesse at Mommy Works A Lot
by Diamonte at Liberated Mommy
by Summer at The Dirty Floor Diaries
by Brandi at Mama Knows It All