The phases of love

I’m having to leave the house early these days to get my stuff done. Too many kids at home, too much undone housework. I’m job hunting, serious stuff, and blogging, stuff of the heart. Today I promised myself I would start with the serious stuff…but here I am, couldn’t resist.

I was musing on my way to this quiet cafe, about loving our kids, how it feels, how it can wax and wane. I remember being told before having a baby that the bond may not be ‘instant’, that love takes time. For me it didn’t, my big boychild melted my heart right away, and the love just deepened in intensity over the first few months and up to about 3 years old.

Life became more complex at that point: logistics were tiring, money tight, relationship rocky, plus a baby, girlchild, came along. He acted out, I didn’t have the energy or support to deal with it properly. Our relationship became negative, a kind of spiral ensued and then there were years where I longed to be away from him, dreaded his arrival at home or picking him up from school. A hard day with him was loooong, tiring, aggravating. Our relationship (and his home persona) was difficult: breaking things, spitting, biting, hurting his sister, explosions of temper. I did things I regret, I hit, I shouted.

I jollied along, always the ‘dutiful mother’, I stayed at home, I worked hard on mothering, on thinking about his needs in every way, co-slept, cuddled, read to, facilitated his friendships, education, excursions and fun. I read behavioral books, went to some family therapy. It was intense, a slog. I felt angry with him, numb sometimes, felt it was unfair to have been dealt this hand, this difficult child.

I beat myself up, shouldn’t a mother’s love be unconditional? Love him…I have always loved him, I would lay down my life in an instant, sacrifice everything, do anything. But palpable love? When you miss someone, look forward to seeing them…I didn’t delight in him like I imagined I should.

Things improved a bit. In the meantime he grew, he bonded with friends, enjoyed school (at last!), everyone delighted in him except me it felt like.

He is now 7.5 and away for the summer. I miss him. I realise how much we have bonded this year…I had all of them at home part of this year (“homeschooling”, more like bedlam) and though it was hard, we all bonded in our adversity.

We now have another baby boychild, and big boychild is besotted. He has finally found his place on the world, in the family, and in my heart. I miss him, and I need him, and for the first time in a long time I can say from the bottom of my heart that I really, truly, love him.

Love takes time, love has phases, love teaches. I’m grateful to have this boychild teacher. Come back soon boychild… but not too soon….the house is kinda peaceful without you 😉

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The phases of love

8 thoughts on “The phases of love

  1. I love this. Thank you for sharing. I think most parents struggle with liking their child from time to time. Love is a choice, not an unconditional warm fuzzy feeling. We, as humans, often forget how much work choosing love can be.

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  2. This made tears come to my eyes. So beautiful and painfully true. The love we have for our children is constant but it does change in degree over the years. I thought the strong bond I felt with my daughter at birth would always be that way but through years I have felt guilt about how it changes, as she does. But, change and transformation, though hard, can really make something more beautiful than before. At least that is what I’m hoping because at only 5 1/2, she tries my patience regularly these days. And this morning, on her brother’s 2nd birthday she said excitedly, “Its your birthday R and mommy doesn’t get mad at you on your birthday!”…just great.

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    1. I’m starting to think its something most parents must feel to some degree at some point, though the “public” version isn’t often so. I’m glad it struck a chord. And hopefully gave solace too that things can and do eventually shift. Xx

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