This is the second in this series on gifts we receive as parents, those gifts that change us and make us better people.
Growing up, I remember warm embraces with my mother. I remember her touch, her smile, the age-spots on her hands. I remember her wedding ring, her painful feet, her forearm where I rested my head after a long day at school when I lay beside her on her bed. I remember her smile, her gentle love, her laughter and her warmth. I remember knowing always that I was loved. Yet, I don’t really remember the words, the I love you. But I knew. Always I knew without a doubt that I was loved.
In my family, we rarely part without expressing the words, the I love you. When heading to work, to school, to bed, out for an evening, I love you usually comes either right before or just after the Drive Safely or Sleep well or Be careful or Have fun. I don’t know why, but I never ever want there to be any doubt, yet how could there be? And was there ever doubt when we were children? Even with those parents who never said it, or never hugged, or never gave us their warmth, we knew. Some of our parents were broken – by war, by abuse, by neglect, by their own weaknesses and failures – but we knew still.
It feels as though 50 years ago, perhaps even 20, we, our children, all children, were more in tune with their own and their parents’ emotions. We didn’t need everything spelled out for us. We didn’t feel as though each moment were possibly the last together. We didn’t fear the school shooter, the sudden tornado, the flash flood, the terrorist attack. We assumed tomorrow was a given. A right.
Raising children, more than most anything, has bestowed on me the gift of gratitude: Gratitude for their presence, for my husband and the family we’ve created, and for my life, the good, the sad, the bad, the challenging. All of it.