Posted in family life

how to love my family – reminders for myself and a story

Been mulling over some thoughts this weekend that I’ll hopefully have the chance to write up soon – they’re a bit too heavy for a single blog post, so I’ll need to plan out exactly how I want to address them.

In the meantime, I’m thankful for unexpected October rains, and some cooler weather at last, and sons who love each other, and a husband who takes care of me when I’m feeling down. I’ve been selfish and impatient and my family has been so understanding and forgiving. This attitude that they have towards me – that I’m human and imperfect and trying my best to love them, so they’ll keep loving me no matter what – is the same one I want to have toward them. My tips for myself?

Always assume they had the best possible motivation.

Always assume they want to reconcile after an argument or hurt feelings.

Don’t take their feelings or words personally (especially when they’re tired or hungry!).

Renew trust, remain patient, and extend grace.

Remember that little expressions of love – a hug, a smile, an extra five minutes doing something together – can brighten the whole day.

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running to daddy in the rain

When Rondel was about 3 months old I remember a horrible night where I was exhausted and my husband was working and Rondel was so overtired that he wouldn’t go to sleep but was screaming and tossing and turning and just wanted to nurse and my body was so sore and worn out that I couldn’t take it anymore and I lost it: I yelled at him to shut up and go to sleep, or something along those lines, and set him on the bed and left the room for a few minutes to try to pull myself together. Sometime not too long after I was telling someone this story and the appalled look in their eyes devastated me. It was confirmation that I was a failure as a mother, that I had somehow ruined my relationship with my son or broken some sacred trust.

But today, my son comes running to me with an ear-to-ear smile and glowing eyes when he sees me come into the room. His little voice announces my presence with excitement when I come down from putting his brother to sleep for a nap upstairs. When something isn’t quite right in his world, his safe place is by my side or in my arms, snuggling up to me, drawing strength from my strength as the adult, the rock, the haven in his life.

Our mistakes, our failures, the things we regret, the broken moments – they are not the whole story, or the end of the story, when there is love. I didn’t continue to yell at my baby, those years ago; I chose to apologize, and speak with tenderness, and rebuild the trust in our relationship. So I know that when I lose my patience today, he will continue to love and trust me – and he knows that when I lose my patience today, it is not a way of life but a mistake and a shortcoming, and that he can expect gentleness and unconditional love tomorrow (or even in five minutes…).

And this is a confirmation of my hope that our intent to love well, and our efforts to love well, are not in vain: that my son has begun to extend grace and gentleness to me when I tell him I’m not feeling well, toning down his play and his demands to what I can handle; he has started to treat his brother with tenderness and love, adjusting his exuberant affection to the softer touch a baby needs; and he has learned to express his own needs with calm respect for both himself and the people he needs to help him, instead of with the desperate panic of an anxious and overwhelmed infant. It is encouragement to continue the hard path of unconditional love and gentle guidance, to pick myself up from a bad day and begin again with intentionality, self-discipline, and grace.

There is love, and there has been love, and there will be love, running along all the delicate strands of the intricate web of our family life, because they were built in love and can only be maintained by love. And Christ who is love is the master planner and the great sustainer of it all, of our family and of all families who seek to love and to follow Him, and He will not let us fall or fail.

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