Monday, December 28, 2009

A Child's Love

People are always saying you learn about unconditional love when you have kids. For the longest time I thought that you learn to love unconditionally when you discover the love you have for your children. I'm starting to realize that even more so, the reverse is true: the way we truly learn is by experiencing our kids' love for US.

Several years ago this community educator came to MOPS and spoke about some of the abuse situations she'd encountered while working with families. I remember her recalling a little boy who had been thoroughly mistreated by his mother...beyond that, abused really, and neglected, yet he still looked at her with such love in his eyes. And more than anything, he still wanted to be with his mom. He still even looked up to his mom and looked for her approval.

I heard her speak and wanted to weep, but her point was to stop being so hard on ourselves. The love that comes from a child is so pure, so forgiving, that, while we aren't given a license to mistreat them, we have to know that we're not scarring them the way we sometimes fear we are with our slip-ups and lost tempers here and there.

Today I was tired, my knee hurt, I was struggling with fighting off all kinds of icky thoughts, was snappish at times, lacked energy, and was anything but supermom. I wasn't horrible mom, but I wasn't anything special. Yet at bedtime Anna told me what she tells me almost every night. "I love mamma soooo much," followed by, "I love you more than all the love in the world," with many, many hugs and kisses. And Ethan? Well, Ethan. I can push and prod him and yell or cry and it's impossible to scare him away. He still breaks into a huge smile whenever I come home, still wants hugs, still acts so in love with me sometimes, despite all of this autism stuff.

I tucked them into bed tonight and thanked God I hadn't messed up too badly today. Then I heard Anna sweetly singing some sort of lullabye. A few minutes earlier Ethan had been attempting to sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." These are the moments you just want to bottle up and hold forever. But beyond all of the cuteness I just wanted to bask in the moment of knowing that two little people loved me despite my being so profoundly imperfect. And hopefully, remember there is a God close to me who loves the same way.

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